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Full text of "Life and adventures of Sam Bass, the notorious Union Pacific and Texas train robber : together with a graphic account of his capture, and death, sketch of the members of his band, with thrilling pen pictures of their many bold and desperate deeds, and the capture and death of Collins, Berry, Barnes, and Arkansas Johnson"

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Life and Adventures 



<T/ie Notorious Union Pacific and Texas 
Train Robber 

Together with 

A Graphic Account of His Capture and Death 
Sketch of the Members of His Band, With 
Thrilling Pen Pictures of Their Many Bold and 
Desperate Deeds, and the Capture and Death 
of Collins, Berry, Barnes, and Arkansas Johnson. 

Life and Adventures 


CThe Notorious Union Pacific and Texas 
Tram Robber 

Together \Yith 

A Graphic Account of His Capture and Death 
Sketch of the Members of His Band, With 
Thrilling Pen Pictures of Their Many Bold and 
Desperate Deeds, and the Capture and Death 
of Collins, Berry, Barnes, and Arkansas Johnson. 

Dallas, Texas 
Dallas Commercial Steam Print, 


:.. / 7 

Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1878, by 

in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington 

T i 

Ib ,1 



Hoosier Boy. Out in the World. Down the Mississippi. Rapid 
Progress in Dissipation. Arrival in the Lone Star State. 

Sam Bass was born July 21st, 1851, in Lawrence county, In- 
diana, on a farm two miles north of Mitchell. He was the son of 
Daniel Bass, who in 1840 had married Elizabeth J. Sheeks and 
settled upon a farm, where by industry and economy he acquired 
a competency. They had ten children, the two oJdest of whom 
died in infancy. The third son, Geo. W. Bass, enlisted in the 16th 
regiment Indiana volunteers and was killed in the battle of Rich- 
mond, Ky., August 30th, 1862. The rest of the children, with the 
exception of the wayward subject of this sketch, are still living in 
Lawrence and Martin counties, Indiana. Their names are John, 
Denton and Sallie Bass, Euphema Beasley, Mary Hersey and Cla- 
rissa Hersey, "all doing well," so the chronicles state, "and highly 

In 1861 Bass lost his mother, but a few months after his fa- 
ther made haste to supply the loss by marrying "a pious young 
widow and devoted member of the M. E. Church." This union 
seems to have been attended by excellent results, as we are in- 
formed that soon after the marriage "Daniel Bass joined the M. E. 
Church and was a praying Methodist up to the time of his death 
which occurred February 20th, 1864." One child was born from 
this last marriage, Charles Bass, who now lives at Kansas City, 

After the death of the elder Bass, Daniel L. Sheeks, an uncle 
of the heirs, took charge of the estate and the children. Mr. 
Sheeks, being one of the largest, and most respectable farm- 
ers in the country, trained the children up to the habits of industry 
and gave them all the advantages of education and improvement 
conferred upon his own children. But as Bass could not read and 
could barely sign his name, these advantages could not have been 

There seems to be no . question that the Bass and Sheeks fami- 
lies were highly respectable and had the esteem of all the" people 
with whom they lived. 

Up to the time of the death of his father and for two or three 
year afterward, young Bass maintained an excellent character, 
but after that he began to associate with bad companions and soon 
acquired evil habits. 

Life and Adventures 

In 1869, tired of the restraints of his guardian or longing to see 
more of the world, he left his Hoosier home and went to St. Louis, 
a very bad place to go to at any time, as everybody in Chicago 
would testify, even upon oath. But the great city had but few at- 
tractions for the country boy, and hence he took passage on a 
steam-boat and floated down the Mississippi, landing at Rosedale, 
Mississippi. Here the young adventurer remained a year, work- 
ing at Charles' Mill and forming bad habits with reckless rapidity. 
It is said that he became an expert at card playing and revolver 
shooting and was noted for his dissipation. 

In 1870 he bundled together his little effects again and left 
for the Lone Star State, arriving at Denton in the latter part of 
the year. His 'advent in the Empire State seems to have had a 
subduing effect upon his mind, for he at once sought employment 
and began a sober, industrious life. His first engagement was with 
Mrs. Lacy, proprietress of the Lacy House in Denton. He con- 
tinued in her employ about a year and a half, giving entire satis- 
fction and greatly endearing himself to the good lady of the 
house by his kind and obliging disposition and his excellent con- 

He was next employed by a man named Wilkes, and shortly 
after this by Sheriff W. F. Eagan, with whom he remained until 
the beginning of his downward career. Sheriff Eagan speaks of 
him as a very sober and industrious young man. He frequently 
entrusted him with considerable sums of money to go to Dallas 
and other neighboring places to purchase lumber and supplies. 
His habits of economy w r ere so great that his employer found 
fault w r ith him for starving himself and team. He never would 
wear a suit of clothes that cost more than five dollars. In all his 
service he was very much devoted to his employer's interests. He 
was also retired and quiet in his disposition, never was absent from 
home in the evening or away on the Sabbath unless sent upon an 
errand. His only companion was a little boy, who taught him to 
write and assisted him in his efforts to make a man of himself. 

But unfortunately for himself, on an evil day in 1874 he be- 
came the owner of a "little sorrel mare." This was the beginning 
of a downward career, which has made Bass one of the most noted 
criminals of this or any age; for the mare proved to be fast and 
Bass soon became faster than the mars. After he had run a few 
races abound Denton his employer saw that driving a team and 
running races would not go together. Hence he told Bass that 
he must take his choice between the race mare and the team. 
Bass at once concluded to keep the mare and abandoned the em- 
ployment in which he had been industriously and respectively en- 
gaged for four years. This was in 1875, and from that time on he 

of Sam Bass 

gave himself up to a life of 'dissipation. Soon afterwards he made 
the acquaintance of Henry Underwood, who became his boon com- 
panion, and later was one of the most noted of his gang. 

His evenings were spent at saloons, all business was neglected 
and he was constantly with wild, reckless fellows. His neighbors 
say that he became wholly unlike himself. This remark explains 
much of his career; for he evidently had one of those head-strong 
earnest natures which do nothing by halves. Whatever he did 
was done with all his might. As a boy at cards he became the 
most skillful of all his companions; as an employe he was faithful 
to h's employer; as a bandit he outstripped all the 'daring charac- 
ters who have wrought deeds of violence upon Texas soil. 
- It is said that when he was but nine years of age he witnessed 
a noted criminal trial at his home, in Indiana. It apparently made 
a great impression on his mind and may have excited an evil pas- 
sion for notoriety, even if it was infamous; at all events he is said 
to have remarked one day in Denton, when seeing some horse 
thieves sent to the penitentiary, that when "he committed a crime 
it would amount to something. He would never be. sent to the 
penitentiary for so small a thing as stealing a horse." 

Life and Adventures 



Working on a Farm Horse Racing Beating the Indians 
Texas Cowboy. 

It was in March, 1875, that Bass left the employ of Sheriff 
Eagan. After horse racing, gambling and dissipating for some time 
in and around Denton, he went to Fort Sill, accompanied by five 
or six companions. He was absent on this trip two or three 
months, but what transpired during the time is not known, though 
it is not believed that he carried his dissipation beyond horse rac- 
ing and other forms of gambling. 

When next heard of he was in the Indian Territory, that 
beautiful paradise of nature, the government's home for civilized 
Indians and the hiding place of uncivilized white men. 

It is not to be supposed that these races, like the great Ten 
Broeck-McCarty fiasco, drew all the governors, senators, mem- 
bers of Congress, and other people in the whole region round 
about, nor is there any record of a heavy gate fee for the privilege 
of a grand sell. But in spite of his rudeness the red-skinned racer 
is up to the tricks of the profession and has no trouble with a 
superabundance of honest scruples. 

Bass found it easy enough to beat their scrubby little courers 
with his sorrel mare. But how to get possession of the ponies he 
had won was a much more difficult matter. It was in vain that he 
reasoned, cursed and threatened. They were not playing a losing 
game, they had the ponies and meant to keep them. But Bass 
was equally determined to have what the mare won. Therefore 
when night came he took all the ponies he had won and as many 
more as he could get his hands on and started for Texas. This is 
the first act of robbery recorded in his career. The ponies were 
driven across the State toward San Antonio, where Bass arrived 
in the latter part of '75, or early in '76. 

Here horse racing and gambling were resumed, the * sorrel 
mare still doing the honors of the course. But shortly afterwards 
this fatal piece of horse flesh, which had so rapidly carried her 
owner down the course of ruin, was sold. Bass remained in and 
about San Antonio during the summer, but nothing of note oc- 
curred until about August 1st, when he joined Joel Collins, after- 
wards leader of the gang which robbed the Union Pacific train, in 
gathering up a drove of cattle for the Northern market. The 
nucleus, at least, of the drove was purchased, but how many 
mavericks, old or young, with or without brands, voluntarily or 
otherwise, slipped into the drove as it moved across the country, 

of Sam Bass 

no one can tell. But very loose notions on such points prevail in 
the stock ranges, and it is not to be supposed that Collins and 
Bass played a puritanical part as they followed their herd across 
the wide prairies. 

The cowboy is a sui generis of the Southwest. Usually he 
is tall and slim, with sunburnt face, keen glittering eye and hand- 
some moustache. His dress is of the simplest kind. A half acre of 
hat, more or less, covers his head. His feet are enclosed in a 
heavy pair of cow-hide boots, at the heels of which are a pair of 
clanking, clattering spurs, and in the tops he stows away the sur- 
plus ends of his pantaloons. His shirt is a flannel or calico and 
abhors mansard collars, and other "neck fixins." He rides a tough 
little animal called a Texas or Mexican pony, which he purchases 
for fifteen or twenty-five dollars. It can stand more riding and 
less feeding than almost any kind of horse living. At his saddle is 
strapped a Sharp's or Wincester rifle, and at either hip is a six 
shooter, while around his waist is a belt filled with cartridges. In- 
tervening space is filled up with daggers, bottles or whiskey and 
plugs of tobacco. 

Wihen on the drive he stops wherever night overtakes him, 
sleeping as sweetly with his body stretched upon the greensward, 
his head upon his saddle and the glittering stars above, as if tuck- 
ed away in the softest bed. He always stops at "the store," takes 
a drink, buys some more tobacco and replenishes his bottle. 

When he arrives in a town or city, if he is flush, he always 
finds his way to a gambling saloon, where he plays more recklessly 
than successfully, or to a house of prostitution, where he falls an 
easy victim to the blandishments of some fair enchantress, and usu- 
ally retires heavy in head and light in pocket. 

But with all his weakness, he has some of the best qualities 
of manhood. He is generous, brave, and faithful to his friends, sel- 
fishness and small meanness find but little place in his everyday life. 

There is no doubt that, as a cowboy, Bass snugly filled out 
the proportions of the type. 

But not to make a further disgression, we find that the drovers 
arrived in Kansas some time during the fall. Here they sent their 
cattle on to Sidney, Nebraska, while they took the cars for the 
same place. It is said, by detectives that his was done because 
the ownership of some of the cattle was a disputed question, and 
that they were afraid at that time and place to be seen with them. 
But it is quite probable that they were tired of the drive and took 
this method of obtaining a rest. 

At Sidney they met the herd and drove it from there to the 
Black Hills, where it was disposed of. 

This ended the cattle business and introduces us to another 
phase of the bandit's career. 

Life and Adventures 



On the Road Keeping a Dance House in Deadwood Deadwood 
Society Belles of the Town Kitty Leroy, the Her 
Tragical Death "The World by the Tail, With a Down Hill Pull" 
The "Tail Holt" Slips 

After disposing of the herd of cattle, Bass and Collins purchased 
two four-horse teams, and began freighting between Dodge City, 
Yankton and the Black Hills. In this business they continued until 
January, 1877, when they sold out and opened a gambling saloon and 
house of prostitution in Deadwood. 

There is nothing puritanical or bigoted about Deadwood society- 
The widest latitude of opinion and practice is allowed on all moral 
questions. The conscience is not harassed with scruples and no pru- 
dential considerations harness the passions. Nobody seems to have 
the slightest lecollection of a father's solemn admonitions or a moth- 
er's prayers. Religious teaching is a withered tradition, tossed among 
the other rubbish of abandoned sobriety. Sunday is no better than 
any other day, and every other day is as bad as it can be, but night 
is still worse. 

Every man who goes to Deadwood is shadowed by the presentiment 
that he will either be shot or that the mad fever in his blood will 
break out in the slaughter of somebody else. When he arrives in 
the -city he needs no introduction, but to hang out his revolvers, call 
for a drink and lay down a greasy pack of cards. He is asked his 
name, for convenience sake, but nobody thinks of inquiring where 
he came from, why he left or what his name was before he left. 

Most of the houses are saloons. The rest are theatres, faro 
banks and dance houses. Prostitution is not confined to special 
quarters but has full sweep of the range. Only respectability and 
virtue are crowded into corners. 

The queens of society are the most brilliant of the demimonde. 
The further they have fled from the modesty of their sex, the more 
dashing and daring they are, the more recklessly they can handle a 
revolver and the straighter they can throw a dagger; the more men 
rave over them and the more ready they are to kill or be killed for 
their sake. 

To show that this picture of Deadwood society is not overdrawn, 
and to present a fair type of the leaders of the sex, we give bslow a 
description of one of the queens who reigned in the height of her 

of Sam Bass 

glory at the time Bass and Collins kept the dance house. This was 
Kitty Leroy, a woman who has been much written about and whose 
tragical fate shortly after this sent her name throughout the press 
of the country. A Black Hills letter speaks of her thus: 

Kitty LeRoy, who was killed by her husband only a short time ago, 
who then killed himself, was a small figure, and had previously been 
noted as a jig-dancer. She had a large Roman nose, cold, grey eyes, 
a low, cunning forehead, and was inordinately fond of money., I 
saw her often in her "Mint," which was opposite my office, where 
men congregated to squander their money; and as Kitty was a good 
player, like the old grave-digger, "she gathered them in!" that is, 
their money. Men are, in a general sense, fools. A small tress of 
golden hair, or a bright eye or soft cheek will precipitate them into 
an ocean of folly, and women of the world (and some out of the 
world) know this fact and play upon the weak string of men's hearts 
until all is gone money, character and even life. Kitty had seen 
much of human nature, entering upon her wild career at the age of 
ten. She was married three times and died at the age of twenty- 
eight. A polite and intelligent German met her. He was going well 
with his gold claim; she knew it. Like the spider, she spun her 
delicate web about him until he poured into her lap $8,000 in gold, 
and then when his claim would yield no more she beat him over the 
head with a bottle and drove him from her door. One and another 
she married, and then when their money was gone, discarded them 
in rapid succession. Yet there was something peculiarly magnetic 
about Kitty. Men did love her and there are men living to-day who 
love her memory. Well, she's gone. I saw her only a short time 
since, lying dead by the body of her inanimate husband, with whom 
she would not live, but with whom she was obliged to pass quietly 
to the grave. 

Another correspondent writes of Deadwood society and very 
gushingly of Kitty as follows: 

"There are dance houses and theatres, where the gay society 
congregates, and it is at such houses, as well as at the gambling 
houses, that the fair sex may be seen. The women, though not so 
bad as the men, are all strong minded, which, from a hen-pecked 
point of view, is the worst thing you can say of a female. Some keep 
bars, taverns, boarding houses, and variety shows, while a few keep 
gambling dens, like 'The Mint,' which was kept by poor Kitty LeRoy, 
lately killed by one of her husbands, which was the tragic end of a 
brilliant career; for, barring the wild, Gipsy-like attire, which fash- 
ion would fail to appreciate as intensely picturesque, Kitty LeRoy 
was what a real man would call a starry beauty. Her brow was low 
and her brown hair thick and curling; she had five husbands, seven 

10 Life and Adventures 

revolvers, a dozen bowie-knives and always went armed to the teeth, 
which latter were like pearls set in coral. She was a terrific gambler, 
and were in her ears immense diamonds, which shone most like her 
own glorious eyes. The magnetism about her marvellous beauty 
was such as to drive her lovers crazy; more men had been killed about 
her than all the other women in the Hills combined, and it was only 
a question whether her lover or herself had killed the most, 

"She could throw a bowie-knife straighter than any pistol bullet 
except her own, and married her first husband because he was the 
only man of all her lovers who had the nerve to let her shoot an 
apple off his head as she rode by him at full speed. On one occasion 
she disguised herself in male attire to fight a man who had declined 
to combat with a women He fell, and she then cried over him, and 
married him in time to be his widow. Kitty was sometimes rich and 
sometimes poor, but always lavish as a prince when she had money. 
She dealt 'vautoom' and 'faro,' and played all games and cards with 
a dexterity that amounted to genius." 

Kitty is supposed to have been the wife of Capt. E. H. Lewis, of 
Bay City, Michigan. But in 1872 she left her husband, and after 
that time figured as a public dancer in various part of the Union. 
In the winter of 1875-6 she was engaged at Thompson's variety den 
in Dallas. While there she created quite a sensation among the lewd 
habitues of that resort, by her artistic dancing and gay rollicking 
and dashing manners. After a few months stay she ran away with a 
well known saloon man, and together the two visited California, 
where they remained a few months and then proceeded to Deadwood. 
Subsequently she quarreled with her paramour and married Samuel 
R. Curley, a note faro dealer. But the couple proved to be badly 
mated, and soon after their marirage Curley went to Denver, and 
almost immediately thereafter the broken friendship between 
Kitty and her paramour was restored, a fact that was communicated 
to Curley, who undoubtedly went to Deadwood for the express 
purpose of killing his wife, her paramour and himself, for he travel- 
ed under an assumed name; alighted from the coach in South Dead- 
wood, telling the driver if asked if any passengers other than those 
delivered at the office had come up, to say no. He walked direct to 
the hotel at which the unfortunate woman was a guest, remained 
there all day, and in the evening sent for his rival, who refused to 
to visit him. He then told a colored man employed in the house 
that he intended to kill his wife and himself, and true to his word 
went up stairs and did so. 

When the bodies of the murderer and his victim were found the 
woman rested upon her back, in a position and with a quiet facial 
expression that indicated naught of the bloody deed that had been 

of Sam Bass 11 

enacted but a moment before. Close examination revealed a small 
bullet hole in the waist of her dress, which, upon being opened, 
disclosed the fatal wound in the center of her chest. In the opposite 
corner of the room lay the murderer upon his face, in a sickening 
pool of blood, his brain oozing out and pieces of skull protruding 
from a ghastly wound. His right arm was doubled up behind him, 
the hand grasping a Smith & Wesson, by which the fatal deed was 

It is not strange that in such society as this Bass soon became 
fit for .crimes of the first magnitude. But before entering on his 
career of daring deeds he seems to have made one more effort to 
follow a respectable occupation. For about this time he wrote to 
Henry Underwood, then in Denton, that he and Collins had pur- 
chased a quartz mine, for which they had been offered $4,000, but 
it was a big thing and he would not sell, but when he got it worked 
up he would let him know all about it. He assumed his friend 
in the phraseology of the cattle ranche, that he had the world by the 
tail, with a down-hill pull. He also informed him that he would 
return to Texas in the Fall and would then pay off his creditors. 
But whether the "tail holt," of which he boasted, slipped or whether 
the mine had been salted for his special benefit by men shrewder 
than cow boys, is not known. But this was the last respectable 
piece of business in which he engaged. After this he is known to 
the world only as a bold highwayman, undertaking deeds of daring 
which but few bandits have the audacity to attempt or the nerve 
to execute. 

What led immediately to his final plunge into a career of bold 
outlawry is known only from the statement which he made on his 
death bed. When asked the question why he began to rob he replied 
that he had won some money gambling and had been robbed of it 
and wanted to get even with them. Whether this occurred at 
Deadwood or elsewhere is open to conjecture, but there is some 
reason to believe that he referred to some occasion on which he had 
been beaten out of his money by sharpers. The fact that both he 
and Collins got rid of their cattle money so fast, indicates that if 
there were none more reckless and daring, yet there were much 
shrewder gamblers and sharpers in the Hills than Bass and Collins. 

12 Life anii Adventures 



Black Hills Stage Robberies Great Union Pacific Robbery At Big 
Spring, Nebraska Sixty Thousand Dollars In Gold Captured. 

While in the Black Hills Bass made the acquaintance of Nixon 
and Jack Davis, and probably of all the men who assisted in the 
Union Pacific train robbery. But according to his own statement 
only Jack Davis and Nixon were engaged with him in stage robbing. 

There were seven of these robberies in all, and some money was 
realized from them, but how much is not known. 

It is apparent that but a short time elapsed between the stage 
robberies and the .capture of the railroad train at Big Spring, Ne- 

This was one of the most daring and successful train robberies 
ever committed. 

Collins formed the plan of the robbery, though it is believed 
Jack Davis first suggested it. He had come from San Francisco, 
and was familiar with the fact that large sums of gold were con- 
stantly passing over the route. The names of the gang, six in num- 
ber, have all been ascertained since, Bass himself testifying to 
the correctness of the list in his dying moments. They were Joel 
Collins, formerly from Dallas county, Texas; Sam Bass, from Den- 
ton county, Texas; Jack Davis, from San Francisco; Bill Heifridge, 
who went from San Antonio with Collins and Bass; James Berry, 
from Mexico, Mo., and Nixon, of whose previous history but little 
is known. 

A more daring and desperate band of outlaws was never gotten 
together in this country. Collins acted as leader of the band and 
it has been charged that he spent three or four weeks previous to 
the robbery at Ogalalla, Neb., gambling and associating with desper- 
ate men, from whom he organized the gang. It has also been said 
that he had a cattle ranche near Big Spring Station, and thus 
became acqainted with the habits of the station men, the operations 
of trains and the surroundings of the office. But mis i;as been 

The time selected for the robbery was Tuesday night, the 19th of 
September last. As Big Spring was only a water station, the plan 
evidently was, to capture the few men employed about the station 
and keep them under guard until after the train was robbed. 

At the appointed hour the bandits boldly rode down towards the 

ofSamBass 13 

station, hitched their horses conveniently near, and at once proceed- 
ed to business. With a small flourish of revolvers and the well 
known command, "throw up your arms," the station agent and as- 
sistant were soon made secure. 

As train time, 10 o'clock, drew near, the bright rays of the head- 
light were seen falling upon the distant track. Then came the long 
sound of the whistle, the rushing train checked its speed and in a 
moment more stood still upon the track. It was but the work of 
an instant for one of the gang to mount the engine, command the 
engineer and fireman to throw up their hands and there hold them 
helpless under the muzzle of a cocked revolver. But even before 
this had been accomplished, two of his confederates had boarded 
the express car and were ransacking its contents. They soon found 
a large quantity of gold in one of the safes, but the other could not 
be opened. It was in vain that they ordered the messenger to open 
it. He assured then that he had no key, that it was a time lock and 
could only be locked or opened at each end of the route. Jack Davis 
cursed and raved, beat him over the head, thrust his revolver into 
his mouth kno.cking out one of his teeth and lacerating the flesh, and 
threatened to blow the top of his head right off if he didn't open it. 
But Bass said he reckoned the messenger was telling the truth, and 
that theiy had better give it up. 

After going through the coaches and robbing the terrified passen- 
gers the bandits slowly backed away, keeping their arms presented 
until they were lost to view in the darkness. 

A number of shots were fired during the transaction and a few 
wounds were inflicted, but no one was killed. 

The gold taken from the express car amounted to the sum of 
$60,000, no small weight for the robbers to handle under the circum- 
stances. It consisted entirely of twenty dollar gold pieces, of the 
coinage of 1877, a fact which was afterwards of material assistance 
in ferreting out the perpetrators of the crime. 

Shortly after the robbery, the gang divided the money and 
separated, going two together by different routes. Bass, Davis, and 
Nixon, for a time vanished from view. Of the others we shall speak 
in the succeeding chapters. 

14 Life aiTd Adventur e s 



Great Excitement Among Railroad Officals. On The Trail Uncle 
Sam's Soldiers to the Front. Two Travel Stained Cow Boys. 
Heavily Laden Pony. Capture of Collins and Heffridge. They 
Die With Their Boots On. Subsequent Doubt. Collins Defend- 
ed. Short Sketch of His Life. 

The Big Spring robbery created intense excitement among railroad 
officials and caused a general sensation throughout the country. 

The large amount of money secured was looked upon as a temp- 
tation which would soon lead to another like attempt. This in con- 
nection with the heavy shipments of gold over the line would be 
likely to excite the cupidity of every bandit in the West, at the 
same time the long stretch of road through waste and desert regions, 
with here and there a lonely station, made it very difficult to afford 
adequate protection. It was determined, therefore, to capture 
the robbers at any cost and hazards. Large rewards were at once 
offered by the State authorities of Nebraska and by the railroad 
companies. This brought forward detectives from almost every 
quarter. Telegrams were sent to all officers along railroad lines, to 
sheriffs and officers in command of U. S. troops. 

At first it was not wholly known who the robbers were or whence 
they came. But it so chanced that among the passengers on the 
plundered train was a young man named Andy Riley, a resident 
of Omaha. During the attack upon the train, Riley stood upon 
the platform and received a wound in the hand from one of the 
flying bullets, he was also robbed along with the rest of the pas- 
sengers. He had traveled with Joel Collins on the way to Deadwood 
and knew him well. He had also seen him and conversed with 
him only a few days before, while on a visit to Ogalalla. Great 
was his surprise, therefore, when the robbers came through the 
train, to find Joel Collins among them. Immediately upon his 
return to Omaha he notified the officials of the fact and Collins* 
name and description of his person were accordingly telegraphed 
in all directions. 

It was shortly learned also that after leaving the railroad, the 
robbers crossed the Platte river, in Nebraska and were next heard 

of Sam Bass 15 

of at Young's ranche on the Republican river in Kansas.* This was 
on the 23d, the next Saturday after the robbery. Intelligence ol 
this fact having reached Sheriff Bardsley, of Ellis county, Kansas, 
he at once started from Hays City, on the Kansas Pacific road, with 
a squad of ten cavalrymen and a detective from Denver and made his 
headquarters at Buffalo Station, on the Kansas Pacific. This is sixty 
miles west of Hays City, in the center of a wild and dreary waste. 
Nearby is a large ravine, in which the Sheriff and his posse camped. 
While there, about nine o'clock in the morning of the 26th, Joel Col- 
lins, the chief of the train robbers, and a single adherent, rode up to 
the lonely station. 

The following account of their capture and tragical death we take 
from a Western daily of the 28th: 

When first seen they were riding from the north, coming boldly 
over a high ridge of open prairie. They led between them a pony 
heavily laden with something which, while it was not bulky, seemed 
to tax the strength of the pony to carry it. The men were dusty 
and travel stained. They appeared to be and might have been taken 
for two Texas "cow boys" out on a hunt for cattle or on their way 
to join a herd. Had they rode straight across the track and continued 
their journey without stopping, no suspicion would have been aroused; 
but they were led instinctively to their death. They rode their jaded 
horses to the shady side of the principal building of the station, and 
one of the two dismounted, leaving his partner in charge of the 
horses and the pack pony. The man left in charge of the horses said 
they were Texas cattle men on their way home, and enquiring the way 
to Fort Larned. The dismounted man walked up to the station agent 
and enquired the way to Thompson's store. The building was pointed 
out to him, but as he stood conversing he took out his handkerchief, 
which revealed a letter in his pocket upon which was plainly visible 
he superscription "Joel Collins." This was the name of the leader 
of the Union Pacific train robbers, and the brands upon their horses 
assured the station agent that these were the men wanted by the 
Sheriff and his soldiers encamped a few hundred yards away. Sheriff 
Bardsley was notified at once, and he came up to the station and 
e:\amined the horses and made other satisfactory observances. He 
conversed with the robber chief for some time, and asked many 
questions, which were freely answered. They walked together to the 
station and took a drink, and conversed upon various unconsequental 
subjects. Collins made no effort to conceal his real name. He had 

*Detective Leech, of Ogalalia, afterwards claimed that he was in the camp of 
the gang on the night they divided the money, and that he knew by sight all 
the robbers. He said that he escaped capture at their hands only by hasty flight 
on his horse 

16 Life and Advent u r e s 

no suspicion whatever that the telegraph had given his name and 
description at that little station in the middle of the buffa'o plains. 
Bardsley then left his prey and started back to the camp of the 
soldiers, who were under the command of Lieut. Alien, and ordered 
them to saddle up and follow him, and he would bring back the 

In the meantime the two horsemen with their heavily burdened 
pony had started out on the open plains southward. Sheriff Bardsley 
and his posse started out in pursuit. 

When Collins and his companions saw the Sheriff and his blue 
coated posse of cavalry appear on their trail, they manifested no 
excitement. They did not even attempt to run. On the contrary, 
they rode on leisurely on the Texas trail unil Sheriff Bardsley rode 
up and halted them. Even then they gave no sign of trepidation or 
excitement. Collins looked at Bardsley with the coolest effrontery 
and demanded his business. Said Sheriff Bardsley: 

*'I have a description of some train robbers which answers well 
to your appearance. I want you and your partner to return with 
me to the station. You need fear nothing if you are innocent, and 
if you are the man I want, then I am $10,000 better off. Please 
come back to the station, gentlemen." 

"You are mistaken in your men, gentlemen," said Collins, laugh- 
ingly, "but, of course there is no use to object. We will go back 
and have the mistake explained. We are Texas boys going home 
that's all." 

Then they turned their tired horses back towards the station. 
As they returned they exchanged a few brief words which were un- 
distinguishable even by the nearest trooper. They rode a few hun- 
dred yards over the level plain towards the solitary station, when 
suddenly the leader, Joel Collins, broke the silence. Turning to 
his companion he said: 

"Pard, if we are to die, we might as well die game." 

Then he drew his revolver. His partner followed his example, 
but before either could fire, the troops had fired a volley into them 
and they fell from their horses riddled with bullets. The robbers 
died instantly and were taken to the station for burial, but were 
afterwards taken so Ellis station, where an inquest was held upon the 

The body of Collins was identified by a dozen of his old Texas 
acquaintances but for a long time the body of his accomplice could 
not be identified. It was at first believed to be that of Sam Bass 
himself, and was so telegraphed over the country and published in 
the papers. 

Finally Anna Langs appeared in the depot, where the bodies were 
lying, and stated, under oath, that she recognized the body as being 

of Sam Bass i 17 

that of William Cotts, formerly of Pottsville, Pa., but more recently 
of San Antonio, Texas, and that his father resided in Pottsville. 
He was a light complexioned man, about thirty years of age, light 
hair and sandy beard, about five feet seven inches high and weighed 
135 pounds. 

Whether Anna had any real knowledge of the man, or whether 
she thought so "because she thought so," or whether the true name 
of Heffridge was Cotts, is difficult to say. But there is no doubt 
now that the man who fell with Joel Collins under a shower of bullets, 
was the member of the gang known as Bill Heffridge. 

At the time of his death Collins was described as being dark 
complexioned, with black hair and beard, about five feet eleven inches 
high, weighed one hundred and fifty pounds, and was supposed 
to be twenty-eight years old. He was also said to have been affable, 
of pleasing address, intelligent, and very handsome. Upon his body 
a small piece of paper was found upon which was written a poetical 
effusion by a lady and dedicated to Joel Collins. But the richest 
discovery was made upon the pony. When the tired little animal 
was stripped of the blanket which covered the pack saddle, an old 
pair of pantaloons was found underneath. The ends of the legs had 
been tied together, then they were filled with gold and thrown 
across the saddle. When the glittering metal was turned out upon 
the ground and counted, it was found that the amount was no less 
than twenty-five thousand dollars. It was all of the mintage of 
1877 and in twenty dollar pieces. 

This fact, taken in connection with the other circumstances, 
furnished the strongest eviden.ce that the lucky Bardsley had struck 
the right man. Railroad officials were in high glee and congratu- 
lations were exchanged all along the line. 

But in a few days serious doubts began to creep into many minds 
and it was gravely feared that the deadly rifle had struck down an 
innocent man. A leading law firm at Topeka, Kansas, was retained 
to investigate the circumstance attending the bloody tragedy. It 
was alleged in Collins' defense that he obtained a large sum of 
money from the drove of cattle which had been disposed of the 
pervious year, that he had written to his father that he had obtained 
twenty-five cents per pound for them and would soon start home with 
the money. It was also stated that he had amassed a considerable 
fortune in the cattle business with his brother near San Antonio 
and that this precluded all temptation to commit robbery. In 
addition to this it was said there was unquestionable evidence as 
to the time Collins started for home, and of his movements, which 
tended to show that he could not have been in the vicinity of Big 
Spring at the time of the robbery. Collins* conduct at the moment 

18 Life and Adventures 

of his death was accounted for on the supposition that he believed 
himself in the hands of a gang of outlaws who intended to rob and 
murder him, and that he was determined to sell his life as dearly 
as possible. 

About this time, also, an old Texan came out with a short news- 
paper article defending Collins from many of the charges which 
had been made against him and stating it to be the belief of those 
who had long known young Collins and his parents, that he was not 
the guilty man. 

But a few days later the dying statement of one of his captured 
confederates forever set at rest all doubt in regard to the matter. 
Since then the death-bed statement of Bass himself has been added to 
the proof. 

As Joel Collins, so far as known, participated in but one no- 
ted crime, few events in his life have been preserved on record. 

He was born in Dallas county, Texas where his parents still 
reside, his father being a farmer of somle means and a man who has 
long enjoyed the respect and sympathy of his neighbors. 

In 1868 Young Collins left home and went to the southwest 
part of the State where he had a brother in the cattle business. 
From 1868 to 1870 he was in the employ of Allen and Poole, the 
great cattle men of the coast, and stood well as a young man. 

In 1871 he took a herd of one thousand cattle to Kansas for 
Bennet and Schoate, of North Texas. 

In 1872 he took up a large herd for P. T. Adams, Joel receiv- 
ing one half the profits. In 1873 he did the same thing and on 
the same favorable terms for James Re,ed. 

In 1874 he bought a drove from Bennet and Akard, partly on 
time and was induced (if not forced) to ship them to Chicago at a 
heavy loss. This he did against his will in order to meet the 
deferred payment, when the cattle were poor and the market 

This is the statement made by his friends, while others give a 
different version of the matter. 

In 1875 he kept a saloon in San Antonio for a few months. 
The house is said to have been a disreputable one. 

In 1876, as we have already seen, he took his last drove North 
in company with Bass. In the Spring of 1877 he is said to have 
opened a provision store at Polato Gulch, thirty-five miles from 
Deadwood. His friends claim that he remained there until he 
"started for Texas." But there is much reason to doubt whether 
it was known to them what he was doing during his last stay in 
the North. His letters were not always intended to give the exact 
situation of affairs. It has been charged that he killed several 
men during his life, but this is probably an exaggeration as there 

of Sam Bass > : 19 

is no authentic account of more than one such act. In 1869 he 
killed a Mexican in Victoria county, but surrendered himself, was 
tried and acquitted. As is well known it is very difficult for an 
American to murder a Mexican. It is a principle with jurists that 
such acts are always for self defense. 

Before closing this chapter we pause for a momient to note 
the fatal chain of apparently trivial circumstances which so quickly 
tightened around the unfortunate Collins. Never was the perpe- 
trator of a great crime stricken down by a more unerring blow of 
retribution at the very moment when escape seemed well night as- 
sured. It must be admitted that he showed a singular lack of 
shrewdness, first in not thoroughly disguishing himself when he 
boarded the train, and secondly in not giving a wide berth to all 
telegraph stations. But still, had he rode through Buffalo Station 
without stopping he would have passed unnoticed; or had he left 
the dust and sweat upon his face and allowed his handkerchief to 
remain in his pocket, or had the tell-tale envelope not clung to it, 
he might soon have been beyond the reach of detectives and sol- 
diers. But the unseen hand of fate had marked him for her own 
and at that very hour. 

His bold attempts to defend himself against a whole troop of 
soldiers may be called bravery, but it was the extreme of folly. In 
a country like this, where jails are weak and the law weaker than 
the jails, where the whole criminal jurisprudence seems to be run for 
the protection of criminals rather than the public, it would have 
been better to submit quietly and await a better opportunity. 
There is reason, however, to believe that this reckless leader of 
bandits feared Judge Lynch and preferred to "die game." 

2X) Life and Adventures 



Hot on the Track Berry in Mexico, Missouri Sells Large Sums 
of Gold Scatters Money With a Free Hand Whole Corps of De- 
tectives in Pursuit A Disappointment Better Luck The Bandit 
Captured His Confession and Death Escape of Nixon. 

The capture and death of Collins and Heffridge occured September 
26th, but no further clue to the remaining robbers was obtained 
until about the 8th or 9th of October, when suspicion was aroused 
in Mexico, Mo., by a large sale of gold which was made there. While 
at Boonville October llth, Col. A. B. Garner, General Superintendent 
of the M. K. & T. railway, received the following telegram: 
To Col. A. B. Garner, Boonville, Mo. : 

Mexico, Mo., Oct. 11. James Berry, an old resident of Callaway 
county, is one of the Union Pacific train robbers. He was at William- 
burg Monday night. He is six feet high, weighs about 190 pounds, 
is forty years old, has a red face, yellowish red hair, mustache and 
goatee, just recently shaved, round, full face, blue eyes and freckly 
hands. We will pay $500 for his arrest and ten per cent of the 
money recovered. He had about $9,000. Think he is making for 
Texas. Have all crossings closely watched. He has a pacing 
bay horse and new saddle. 

On the same day the Moberly Monitor published the following: 

"A man by the name of Jim Berry, of Callaway county, has just 
returned from the Black Hills to Mexico, Mo. Suspicion has been 
directed to him of complicity in the Union Pacific roberry, by a 
financial transaction in which he was engaged immediately on his 
return. The morning after his arrival in Mexico he visited the 
banks at the hour of opening and sold gold to the amount of $9, 
000. Berry remained in Mexico all day Friday and until Sunday 
evening. He was princely extravagant with his money. Meeting 
an old mining acquaintance he gave him $250; he delighted a cloth- 
ier by purchasing a fine suit of clothing without higgling at the 
price, and bought a $300 bill of groceries, which were sent to his 
family in Callaway. Saturday evening he took his departure, and 
Monday morning the bankers received news that the gold he had 
exchanged, and which they had shipped to St. Louis, had been 
identified as part of the treasure captured by the Union Pacific rob- 
bers. The next day (Tuesday) a corps of detectives from St. Louis 
and Chicago arrived at Mexico, and with the Audrain county 

of Sam Bass ' 21 

sheriff at their head, started in pursuit of Berry. After a long 
rough ride the vicinity of his house was reached and the party so 
disposed as to completely surround it. They now felt sure of their 
game and the rich reward that awaited his capture. But they 
were doomed to disappointment. Narrowing the circle and grad- 
ually closing in, a rush was finally made for the house. They en- 
countered no opposition where they had calculated upon a fierce 
resistance, and, upon entering, they found that the bird had flown. 
A thorough search of the premises revealed no trace of the daring 
robber, and, though the whole country had been scoured by differ- 
ent parties, his trail ha>d not been struck up to yesterday There 
is not a particle of doubt that Berry was one of the robbers and his 
capture is only a question of time." 

This prophecy was shortly fulfilled, as the following account of 
his capture, published in the Mexico Ledger, October 15th, will 

"We have just interviewed H. Glascock and J. Berry, concern- 
ing the arrest of Berry, Sunday morning, and we give you the 
facts as near as possible below: 

"It appears that last Saturday night as our sheriff was eating 
supper, about half-past six o'clock, he received a message that a 
man was in town after the suit of clothes Berry had left at Blum's 
The man's name was Bose Cazy; he lived near Berry's. He told 
Blum that Berry had told him that he could have the .clothes if he 
would pay the balance of $30 due on them. This was the way he 
had his "job" fixed up. Glascock ran right down to Kabrich's 
hall and hid behind the corner and saw Cazy come out; this was 
half past seven. Glascock followed him to Wallace and McKamy's 
livery stable. Just as Glascock got near the stable he met J. Car- 
ter, and told him to come along. Carter, Glascock and Cazy all 
got to the stable at the same time. Cazy paid for his horse feed 
and started to get on his horse. Sheriff Glascock took Cazy by the 
collar, presented a pistol to his head and told him he would shoot 
him if he moved. Cazy did not move. Glascock ordered two 
more horses saddled. They then tied Cazy on his horse. The 
sheriff and Carter then got on their horses and the ^alvacade moved 
off, Glascock leading Cazy's horse. They went down to the branch 
near Tom Smith's in South Mexico, and as they thought no one 
would get wind of them there, they stopped. Glascock then went 
and got John Coons, Bob Steele and a young man named Moore. 
All got horses and double-barrel shot guns which were loaded with 
buck shot. They then told Cazy they would have to know where 
Berry was. He said he had not seen him since he (Berry) had 
told him he could have the clothes, which was about a week before. 
The men started out towards Cazy's house, and passed Jeff Jones 

22 Life and Adventures 

about 12 o'clock Saturday night. About three o'clock they got to 
James Armstrong's. Sheriff Glascock told him what they had done, 
and he wanted Armstrong to go with them and show them where 
Cazy lived, as he was afraid that Cazy would fool them. Arm- 
strong said he did not know where Cazy lived, and so would not 
go. We don't know whether Armstrong knew or not. It was 
then three o'clock Sunday morning. The posse then all got around 
Cazy, put their guns to his heart and told him if he led them into 
any trap, or did not take them at once to his house they would 
shoot him down in a minute. He said he would take them to his 
house if it would do them any good. When they got within about 
a half a mile of Cazy's house they took Cazy off, tied him and left 
Bob Steele to guard him; then Glascock placed two men north of 
the house and stable, Moore and himself going to the south and west 
side, and as the open timber was there they thought he might be 
over in that. They did not alarm Cazy's house at all, it was not 
quite daylight yet. They all secreted themselves in thickets, as 
mentioned above, to await results. Glascock told his men: 
"Boys if you see him halt him; if he shows fight shoot him down; 
if he runs shoot him in the legs; catch him at all hazards." In about 
half an hour Glascock heard a horse "nicker" about a half a mile 
off, as he thought. Moore and Glascock then crept toward the 
noise, went 300 yards down the branch, came to a fence, saw fresh 
horse tracks. Glascocfc got over the fence and got into a thicket; 
heard the horse snort about fifty yards off in the brush. Glascock 
took off his hat and crept up twenty yards closer; then he raised 
up and saw Berry unhitching the horse from a tree. Berry then 
led his horse aslant toward Glascock, as Berry now says, to lead 
him to water. Glascock cocked both barrels of his gun, ran out 
about twenty yards, within about twenty feet of Berry, and de- 
manded him to halt. Berry started to run; Glascock shot, but 
aimed too high, which caused the charge to go over Berry's head. 
He shot again and seven buckshot lodged in Berry's left leg below 
the knee. Berry fell to the ground. When Glascock got to him 
he was trying to get his pistol out but he could not get it out be- 
fore Glascock was on him and snatched it away from him. He 
then asked Glascock to shoot him, that he did not want to live. 

"Glascock told him no; that he did not want to kill him, he 
wanted him to have justice. Just then Moore came up. 

"After Moore came up, Glascock called for the rest of the posse 
when they all gathered around Berry. Glascock then searched 
him and found in his belt five $500 packages, and in his pocket- 
book was found $340. He had a gold watch and chain, one dress- 
ing coat, three overcoats and comfort. He had doubtless slept 
there within ten feet of tihe horse. They took him to Cazy's house, 

of Sam Bass 23 

when Mrs. Cazy got breakfast for the men, while a messenger was 
sent to Williamsburg for medical assistance. 

Immediately afer breakfast Sheriff Glascock and John Carter 
started for Berry's house to look for the balance of the money. 
Upon arriving there Glascock inquired of Mrs. Berry the where- 
abouts of Berry; she replied that she did not know, as she had not 
seen him for four or five days, and thought he had left the country. 
Glascock then showed her the watch and chain, when one of the 
children said: Oh, I thought that was papa's. Glascock then 
told her he had got JJerry, when sfhe asked if he had been taken 
alive, and receiving an affirmative reply, said: I never thought he 
would be taken alive. He has said a good many times he would 
never be taken alive. At this they all began to cry the wife, one 
little boy and five little girls. It was a very distressing scene. 

"Glascock searched the house, but found no money. The house 
was well provisioned for tihe winter hams without number, sacks 
of flour and coffee, kegs of molasses, etc. 

After Glascock left Cazy's about forty of Berry's friends came 
around and made threats about taking him away, but they did not 
make any attempt at all; it all ended in talk." 

At first it was not thought that Berry's wounds were serious, 
but gangrene set in and on th& night of the 18th his sufferings be- 
came very great. It was apparent that he had not long to live, 
but he maintained a determined and bravado spirit to the last. As 
the deep silence of nigttit settled down upon all without, he lay in 
his gloomy cell, alternately writhing in paroxysms of pain or coolly 
talking to the officers who remained with him to the last, anxious 
to secure a dying confession. This wish was partly gratified, as 
he stated in his dying moments, that he was one of the parties who 
committed the Big Springs robbery; that Collins had planned the 
robbery and that the names of the rest of the gang were correct, as 
given by the Express Company. He said that they all traveled 
together two hundred miles and then separated in squads of two, 
that his partner came to Mexico with him and then went on to 
Chicago. This partner must have been Nixon, as it is well known 
that it was not Davis. After much suffering Berry died at one 
o'clock in the morning. He left a wife and six children. He is 
said to have been very respectably connected in Gallaway county. 

Thus it is seen that in less than a month three of the Big 
Spring robbers had been consigned to bloody graves. They had 
lost their booty and paid the penalty of their crimes with their 

There is little reason to doubt Berry's statement that Nixon 

went to Chicago. From that city he probably went to Canada, as 

Henry Underwood stated to the officers at Omaha, December 30th, 

that Nixon was a Canadian and that he was then in Canada. Bass 

also made the statement at Round Rock. 

24 Life and Adventures 



Four Days With Their Pursuers They Separate Davis Goes To 
New Orleans and Bass to Denton Trip to San Antonio Under- 
wood Wanted for Nixon Failure to Capture Him! The Curse 
of Stolen Gold. 

According to the dying statement of Davis, the whole gang 
traveled together two hundred miles and then separated. Where 
this separation occurred is not known, though it was probably 
somewhere near the Republican river in Kansas, where the gang 
was seen four days after the robbery. 

In the separation Bass and Davis chose to go together. Like 
the ill-fated Collins, they also started for Texas, but by a different 
route. It is said that they visited Sidney, Neb., after the robbery, 
and left the city suddenly. But this is doubtful, as it would have 
been attended by very great danger. Be this as it may, it is cer- 
tain that they purchased a one-horse hack, loaded their gold in it 
and turned their course southward just as soon as circumstances 
would permit. Months after this when Bass was safe in Denton, 
while lounging the day away in camp, he told the boys, that soon 
after they set out in the buggy they fell in with a company of 
soldiers and detectives. They at once assured them that they too 
were detectives hot in pursuit of the bold bandits, who had robbed 
the Union Pacific train, and that they hoped to come up with 
them, for there would be a big thing in the capture. This threw 
the officers off their guard, and the two were allowed to join the 
squad. They continued with them four days, while twenty thou- 
sand dollars of ill-gotten gold clanked under their seat as the old 
hack rattled over the road. The officers with whom they laughed 
and joked all day long, would have given thousands of dollars to 
have known this secret, but it remained concealed, and finally the 
wily robbers bade them good bye and drove gayly away. 

The next heard of them was in Cooke county, where Bass passed 
under the name of Samuel Bushon. Here they separated, Bass 
going to his old home in Denton and Davis departing for the gay 
metropolis of the South. Here he seems to have lived a fast life, 
spending his money freely, and enjoying himself as passion led or 
vice dictated. 

But it was not long before he suspected that detectives were 
shadowing his track. This led to his return to Texas, where he 

of Sam Bass I 25 

met Bass and the two proceeded to Fort Worth. Here Jim Mur- 
phy exchanged $4,000 of the stolen gold for greenbacks. Bass 
divided the money with his old partner, and that night Davis took 
the train, and now a score or more of detectives would give much 
to know where he is. 

Early in December Sam Bass, Henry Underwood and Frank 
Jackson went to San Antonio. Thither they were followed by 
Sheriff Everheart of Sherman, Tom Gerrin, a rather noted character 
of Denton, and Tooney Waits, a detective who had come from the 
north to identify the parties connected with the Big Springs rob- 
bery. Waits believed that Underwood was connected with that 
affair, and declared his readiness to swear that he was Tom Nixon. 
Sheriff Everhart also acted on the same belief, and went to San 
Antonio for the purpose of arresting Underwood for Nixon. The 
name of Bass does not figure- conspicuously in the controversy which 
afterwards sprung up in regard to this matter. 

Tom Gerren says that he had a warrant in his pocket for the 
arrest of Underwood on another charge, and that was his object in 
pursuing him. He says that he knew that Underwood could not be 
the man who was known in the robbery as Nixon, because Under- 
wood slept at Jim Hall's ranche in Denton county on the 16th or 
17th of September and could not, therefore, have been in Nebraska 
on the 15th. j 

There can be no doubt that harmonious action and shrewd man- 
agement would have resulted in the arrest of all the party. But 
the officers did not act in unison. One or two prostitutes were let 
into the secret, which helped to mix matters much. In the mean- 
time Capt. Lee Hall was telegraphed to hurry up with his rangers. 
But Bass was not the man to be captured by any such hesitating 
methods, and suddenly he and his associates vanished. 

The newspaper controversy between Everhart and Gerren in 
regard to their failure to make the capture has been extensively 
published and to that public opinion is referred for a settlement 
of the question as to who played a bad part. 

Bass and party soon returned again to Denton where they re- 
mained sometime as will be seen further on. 

A freebooter, with ten thousand dollars in ready cash at his 
command, is apt to prove a great demoralizer to any community 
not steeled in moral integrity. As he passes here and there among 
his friends and neighbors, with a pocket full of gold pieces which 
he deals out with a free hand, buying without pricing and loaning 
without hesitation, he soon becomes such a convenience and de- 
sideratum that men of easy morals and scant conscience do not 
care to see him driven out of the country or lugged off to jail. 

26 LifeandAdventures 

This proved true of Bass' stay in Denton county. His gold made 
him many friends. "He was always so kind and obliging-" that 
they were "ready to do almost anything for him." No greater 
curse ever befell that county than this stolen gold. It brought re- 
proach to the whole people, ruin to individuals, and sorrow to 
many homes. It was an evil which the thousands of good people 
who live there still deeply deplore, an evil, too, which it will re- 
quire years to eradicate from the young and susceptible mind. 



Allen Station Robbery "Your Money Or Your Brains" Pistol 
Practice at Short Range and Wild Aim Going Through the 
Express Car Capture of One of the Band His Trial and 
Conviction While There Is Law There Is Hope. 

We come now to one of the most daring series of train robberies 
which ever disgraced this country. The deeds of the old highway- 
men, who used to stop unwary travelers at some lonely place in the 
road and rifle their pockets pale into utter insignificance before the 
high-handed acts of these modern bandits who dare step upon the 
iron track of commerce, stop the rushing engine, plunder express 
and mail cars, while the officers stand pale and trembling before 
the muzzle of a cocked revolver, and a whole train of terrified 
passengers sit shivering in their seats until the bold transactioin is 
over. For outrageous audacity and cool and deliberate proceedings 
the Texas robberies have never been surpassed not even in the 
notorious carer of the James and Younger brothers, nor in the bold 
assaults made upon Union Pacific trains. Blow after blow was 
struck, even when it was known that the officers on all trains were 
on the alert, and that all the express and mail cars were guarded by 
heavily armed men. 

The first of these robberies was committed at Allen Station, a 
very small place on the Houston & Texas Central Railroad, six 
miles south of McKinney and twenty-four miles north of Dallas. 
This robbery occured between 9 and 10 o'clock on the n'ght of 
February 22nd. When the South bound train arrived at the station 
it was immediatley boarded bty four masked men, one of whom 
leaped upon the engine and in a twinkling had the engineer and 
fireman under the influence of a cocked revolver. The other 

ofSamBass 1 27 

members of the band made a rush for the express car and at- 
tempted to enter it, but were repulsed by Mr. J. L. A. Thomas, the 
messenger. Mr. Thomas says that he had scxme express matter for 
the agent at that place, and was standing in the door of the car 
when the train stopped. The masked men ordered him to throw 
up his hands, crying out, "Your money or your brains." He 
jumped back in the car and drew his pistol. The robbers then 
began firing, he returned the fire, discharging his revolver three or 
four times. The robbers fired several shots and then sprang into 
the car, previously threatening to burn it if Thomas did not sur- 
render. The bell rope was then cut, the express car uncoupled 
from the rest of the train and the engineer was ordered to draw it 
over the switch, when the safe was rifled of its contents. The 
amount secured was sad at the time to be $2500. It is known now 
that it was nearly $3,000. 

There was a large number of passengers on board, but they 
considered prudence the better part of valor and made haste to 
stow away whatever valuables they had upon their persons, all 
momentarily expecting toi^see the robbers coming through the train. 
But as soon as they had finished the express car they made their 
escape, moving off in a westerly direction. 

This bold deed produced much excitement all along the line of 
the road. Texas had seen much stage robbing and many deeds of 
violence, but this was a kind of lawlessness to which the people had 
not become habituated and did not care to see successfully inaug- 
urated. But still not much effort was made to capture the rob- 
bers, except by the officers of the Texas Express Company. They 
at once institutd a vigorous pursuit, and on February 27th cap- 
tured Tom Spotswood at what he called his cattle ranche on Little 
Elm Creek, in Denton county. This arrest was effected under the 
leadership of Mr. W. K. Cornish, agent at Dallas, and Mr. Thomas, 
the messenger. 

Spotswood was taken to McKinney where he had a preliminary 
examination, and in default of $2,500 bail, he was remanded to 
jail to await his trial at the next term of the District Court. 

The trial began in the latter part of June and ended July 2nd. 
Mr. Thomas, the express messenger, was the principal witness 
against Spotswood. He testified that one of the men who entered 
the car on the night of the robbery was not masked, and this man 
he recognized as Tom Spotswood, the prisoner. He said that he 
had ample opportunity to see him, as Spotswood held a revolver in 
his face, while the other men robbed the safe. He noted his pe- 
culiar appearance, especially his glass eye. It is something of a 

28 - Life and Adventures 

question how straight a man can see with a cocked revolver in 
his face, but the evidence had great weight with the jury. 

Mr. Newman, a saloon keeper at Allen station, testified that 
Spotswood visited his saloon the day before the robbery and asked 
him whether there was any gaming done in town, and said that 
he was a sporting man. He also asked at what hour the train came 
from the North. 

An attempt was made to prove an alibi. Bill Spotswood, brother 
of the prisoner, and another man testified that Tom slept at the 
house of the former on the night of the robbery. But two other 
witnesses testified that they met Bll Spotswood and his com- 
panion in the woods the next morning, where they were chop- 
ping wood, and they said they had not slept at home the night 
before becauses they couldln't get across the creek. The jury 
returned a verdict of guilty, and the prisoner was sentenced to ten 
years in the penitentiary. But since then he has obtained a new 
trial. If he lives long enough to wear out all the continuances 
which the laws of the State permit, the delays which the lawyers 
?sk, and gets safely over the frequent "reversing and remanding" 
of higher courts, he may go back to his cattle ranche, or he may 
join some of the boys at Huntsville. But these are things which 
"no fellow can find out" until he lives long enough. 



Plan of Attack Printers to the Front Brave Express Messenger 
Facing the Bullets A Slim Haul Great Excitement The 
Coolest Robbery on Record A, Lost Opportunity Another Fi- 
nancial Failure. 

Nearly a month passed quietly away after the Allen robbery 
and the public began to feel that the capture of Spotswood, who was 
regarded as the chief of the band, had put an end to the desperate 
business. But on the night of March 18th the whole country was 
startled by the intelligence which flashed over the wires, that still 
another train had been successfully captured and robbed. This act 
was also committed on the Houston & Texas Central, at a small sta- 
tion named Hutchins, ten miles south of Dallas. The train selected 
for the attack was again the southbound through express and mail 
train from Chicago and St. Louis, which passed the station about 
10 o'clock at night. 

of Sam Bass 29 

The following account of the robbery appeared in one of the daily 
papers the next day: 

"The robbers understood their business well, had evidently planned 
the assault deliberately, and the manner of its execution was prompt 
and effective. They first took into their possession the railroad 
agent at Hutchins and a negro, then the engineer and fireman of 
the train. They also captured two tramp printers from Dallas, who 
were stealing a ride on the front of the locomotive, and added them 
to the crowd. 

"This squad they marched in front of them to the express car 
door, so that, should the messenger on board the car fire, the dis- 
charge would take effect hot on the robbers but on the innocent 
agent, negro, fireman and engineer, or puncture the valuable epi- 
dermis of the newspaper fraternity. The messenger barred the 
car doors and extinguished the lights, but the robbers soon burst 
asunder the door. The messenger then fired into the mob, with 
what effect is not known, but the fire was returned and the messen- 
ger wounded in the face. One of the printers also received a wound 
in one of his limbs, which for the present will operate as a serious 
check to his perambulatory tendencies. 

"Messenger Thomas, being wounded and seeing the futility of 
attempting any further resistance, surrendered to the mob. The 
safe was rifled of its contents and the mail car ransacked for what- 
ever plunder the robbers saw fit to appropriate. In regard to the 
amount of money obtained in the express car there are several ru- 
mors. One is that they only obtained a small amount, the express 
messenger having secreted the bulk of money and valuables in the 
stove while the lights were out. Another rumor is to the effect 
that they obtained several thousand dollars. Messenger Thomas 
continued on his route as far as Corsicana, where he stopped off on 
account of his wound. 

"Mr. Thomas is a brother of the agent who was in charge of the 
car that was robbed some time ago at Allen station. (He was after- 
wards rewarded by the company for his bravery.) 

"Wcrd of the robbery was dispatched in all directions, but up to 
noon today no trace of the daring scoundrels had been obtained. 
Marshal Morton, of this city, with several members of the px>lice 
force, kept a lookout all last night, but their watching resulted in 
nothing satisfactory. The marshal rode about thirty-five miles last 
night, taking in Hutchins and the adjacent country. : 

"The passengers on board the train were not molested. The 
robbers, it is said, after transacting their business,- took- off toward 
Trinity Bottom, but efforts. to track .them, in tb^t. directipri fo-iu.any 
great distance failed. - . .". ... ..... -. ..''" /. .",.."."" :T.""I-.-.~, 

30 Life and Adventures 

"Later reports confirm the statement that the train robbers se- 
cured but a small amount of money, probably not over $300." 

The great drought prevailing at that time made it impossible to 
follow the trail of the robbers, and active search for them was soon 
given up. It was wholly unknown at the time who they were, whence 
they had come or whither they went. 

Matters were now beginning to wear a serious aspect. The repe- 
tition of such acts was bringing disgrace upon the State, the travel- 
ing public was becoming alarmed, while the express and railroad 
companies were put to heavy expense to protect their property. As 
no clue to the robbers had been obtained, and as no great effort 
was made by the State authorities to ferret them out and effect 
their capture, it was feared that they might at any time strike an- 
other blow. 

These fears were soon realized. This time the blow fell upon the 
Texas & Pacific Railroad, at Eagle Ford, a small station six miles 
west of Dallas. This robbery was one of the best planned and most 
cooly perpetrated crimes ever committed. It is almost impossible 
to believe that the masked men who moved about the train as de- 
liberately as employes of the road engaged in the ordinary opera- 
tions of the track, were actually robbers coolly plundering cars in 
the presence of the train men, the express company's guards and a 
score or so of passengers. 

The attack was made on the night of April 4th, and was reported 
as follows the next day: 

"The western bound train was robbed last night at 11:30, at 
Eagle Ford, by four masked men. The train from the east, on the 
Texas & Pacific Railroad, passed through Dallas last night a few 
minutes after 11 o'clock. It arrived at Eagle Ford, six miles west 
of Dallas, about thirty minutes past eleven. As the depot agent for 
the Express Company, came out of his office he saw a man come 
round the corner of the depot upon the platform with a pistol in his 
hand closely followed by two other men. The first one presented 
his pistol at the agent and kept him quiet until the other two ar- 
rested the engineer and fireman, whom they brought round to where 
the agent and first man were standing. The fourth man was placed 
near the passenger coach with a view, it is supposed, to prevent the 
approach of the passengers. The agent, engineer and fireman were 
then placed in front of the express door, two of the robbers (one 
standing at either end of the men under guard), covering them with 
their pistols, while the leader ordered the local agent to ask the mes- 
senger to open the door. 

"The messenger refused to open the door when the leader took a 
Stick of wood and broke the door in. On the express car so we 

ofSamBass 31 

are informed by Col. C. T. Campbell, the Superintendent of the 
Express Company were the messenger and a man lately hired as 
guard. The guard had a shot-gun and the messenger his pistol. 
Neither made any attempt to fight so far as we can learn. They 
were both ordered out and into line with the other prisoners. Then 
the leader, with the express messenger following, entered the car 
and the safe was opened. The amount taken from the express will 
not exceed fifty dollars. The mail car was also robbed of several 
registered packages, but the amount received from this source we 
are unable to ascertain. 

"We are indebted to Col. Campbell for the information above. 
We also met Mr. Ely, who checks baggage on the train, who in- 
formed us that, observing the delay, he went out with the conductor, 
when they were arrested and held under guard by one of the rob- 
bers. He says when the robbers left they retreated with their guns 
cocked and presented and facing the parties, in readiness for an 
attack. They went in a northwesterly direction." 

Had the guard and messenger made good use of their weapons 
on this occasion, two of the robbers, at least, would never have rode 
away in the darkness again. 



Light Breaking The Hiding Place Discovered Thick Forests and 
Sympathizing Friends Dallas Detectives in Denton Asleep in 
the Woods The Bandits Challenge Their Pursuers to Come Out 
and Fight Robbers' Pranks Getting the Drop on an Officer. 

The Eagle Ford robbery greatly increased public excitement and 
aroused an intense determination to capture the hidden bandits at 
all hazards. 

As yet the State authorities had taken no action except to offer a 
reward of five hundred dollars each for the capture of the guilty par- 
ties. Stimulated by the hope of securing this reward and the desire 
to rid the country of such dangerous outlaws, a few private individ- 
uals, whose names will appear hereafter, made an earnest effort to 
follow the robbers to their hiding pla.ce. 

Great effort was also made by the officers of the Texas Express 
Company to ferret out the bandits. This effort was attended with 
such success that a few days after the Eagle Ford robbery, they ie- 

32 Life and Adventures 

lieved themselves in possession of a full knowledge, not only of 
the whereabouts of the robbers, but also of their names. But they 
were also convinced that their capture by any means at their hand, 
or by civil process, would be well nigh impossible and that the aid 
of the State administration must be called into requisition. They 
determined, therefore, to appeal at once to the Governor for assist- 
ance and to afford a proper justification to public opinion for the 
movement, they called upon the managing editor of the Dallas 
Commercial and requested a full publication of all the facts which 
they had discovered and the conclusions to which they had come 
after a long and expensive investigation. The request was com- 
plied with and the article at once appeared, on Tuesday following 
the Eagle Ford robbery. As this article threw much light on a 
question then wrapped in doubt and mystery and turned public at- 
tention to the hiding place of the robbers, and as its statements 
have been proven almost absolutely true by subsequent develop- 
ments, we give it below: 


Hiding Place of the Train Robbers Discovered. The Band is Located 
in Denton County Authorities Powerless Nothing But An 
Armed Force Can Break Up the Gang. 

"After a most thorough investigation of all the circumstances at- 
tending the late railroad robberies and a careful following up of 
every clue, the detectives are fully convinced that the band of rob- 
bers who perpetrated these daring deeds are located in Denton coun- 
ty. The direction taken by the band in the three successive rob- 
beries establish the correctness of this conclusion, beyond a doubt. 
The band which robbed the train at Allen moved off in the direction 
of Denton county, and shortly afterwards Spotswood, who is now 
believed by all the detectives to have been the leader of the gang, 
was arrested there. 

"When the train was waylaid at Hutchins, the roads were so dry 
.and hard that it was impossible to track the gang, but the indications 
were that they also went in the same direction. But the next morn- 
ing after the affair at Eagle Ford a hot track was found and the 
maskers were followed directly to their present hiding place. 

"The fastness in which these highwaymen have each time success- 
fully taken refuge is an extensive tract of woodland, full of under- 
^growth and very difficult of ingress. It is described as a place where 
.a. man. could live for a year and nobody ever see him. This forest 
many log cabins standing among the trees and in such iso- 

ofSamBassi 33 

lated places that nothing but a long search can discover them. It 
is believed that there are many good people among the inhabitants, 
but fear of their desperate neighbors .compels them to keep their 
lips closed. I 

"But many of the people are thought to be more or less in sympa- 
thy with the gang. Their houses are always open to them, and 
when compelled to stay in the woods, they carry them meals and act 
as spies for them. A detective fully acquainted with the character 
of the people says there are women among them who would ride 
fifty miles in a night to warn one of the gang of approaching danger. 
It is said, too, that they have couriers scattered through all the 
neighboring country, who keep them constantly informed of every 
movement of the authorities. Some of these couriers are supposed 
to be here in Dallas, and constantly act as spies to gather and report 
the sentiments of the people. 

"They are also believed to have regular lines and stations extend- 
ing as far west as Palo Pinto and northwest to the Indian Territory. 

"As is well known, Bass, Underwood and Jackson, who were 
implicated in the Union Pacific robbery, live in Denton. county 
Underwood alias Nixon, was arrested some time since and taken to 
the scene of the robbery for trial. But two weeks ago he made his 
escape and is now at home again. Not long since this gang went 
into the town of Denton, and hearing that the authorities were 
trying to capture them, they retired to a mill near the town and 
sent word to the officers and the whole town of Denton to come out 
and take them. 

"To show the difficulty of capturing the desperadoes in their 
present hiding place by a posse of civil officers, it is related that a 
few days since two or three citizens were passing through the 
woods and upon firing a pistol they heard an answering shot, and 
repairing to the spot they suddenly found themselves confronted 
by several men who stood behind trees with Winchester rifles lev- 
eled at them and ready to pull the trigger. 

"The authorities of Denton county confess their inability to 
capture the gang. 

"There is now no doubt that all the robberies were perpetrated 
by the same gang. At Allen there were five robbers, at Hutchins 
and Eagle Ford there were but four Spotswood having been ar- 
rested in the meantime. It is also fully believed that the same 
parties perpetrated the stage robberies and other deeds of daring 
in western counties. 

"In each case they were traced in the direction of the Denton 
county rendezvous. It is to be feared, too, that they will next 
make raids upon neighboring cities, probably going through a 

34 Life a'n d Adventures 

bank or two, and startling the whole country with their bold 

"The Texas Express and Railroad Companies have spent large 
sums of money in ferreting out the robbers, and the duty now de- 
volves upon the State to arrest or break up the gang. 

"Detectives can do no more, for they have traced the robbers 
to their hiding place, and can almost name the guilty parties. 
The local authorities are powerless to capture the robbers, there- 
fore the "matter should at once be taken in hand by our State au- 
thorities and a sufficient force should be sent into Denton to arrest 
the guilty parties or drive them out of the country. 

The companies are now compelled to keep a heavily armed guard 
on all leading trains. This, of course, involves them in a very heavy 
expense. The additional expense of the Express Company alone is 
said to be a hundred dollars per day. As these companies are 
engaged in legitimate business, they should be protected by the 
State, no matter what the expense. The state of Texas must protect 
all its commercial business or it might as well quit. If desperadoes 
defy local authorities, then the State police might be called upon 
to assist in the enforcement of law. The name of the State is suffer- 
ing greatly from these repeated and daring robberies. 

"The news of each successful attempt flashes at once to every 
town and city in the country, and another black mark is scored 
against Texas. 

"Every good citizen deplores this, and we believe that the Gov- 
ernor would be upheld by public sentiment in a determined effort 
by means of the State police to break up this desperate gang." 

This article was extensively quoted by State exchange and re- 
published by different papers throughout the West, and it did much 
to direct attention to the guilty parties. 

The parties mentioned above as meeting the desperadoes in the 
woods were private detectives from Dallas. The history of the 
adventures of this squad in Denton country is as follows: The 
next morning after Eagle Ford robbery Samuel Finley, June Peake, 
James Curry and one other from Dallas, struck a hot trail leading 
northward from the railroad, and followed it to the Cross Timbers 
in Denton country. They continued through the timbers towards 
Denton, when within about three miles of that place, near the farm 
of Capt. B. H. Hopkins, they suddenly came upon two men asleep 
in the woods. They had ridden past them, when some one discover- 
ed the men and their horses which were picketed near by. The men 
immediately sprang to their feet and fired at the approaching party. 
The fire was returned by James Curry, but no one was hurt on 
either side. A parley then ensued. The detectives did not feel 

of Sam Bass 35 

sure of their men, and were afraid to shoot them down for fear of 
killing innocent parties. While they were maneuvering with a view 
to ascertaining who the men were, the two saddled their horses, 
sprang upon them, raised a whoop and dashed through the woods. 
The Dallas party supposing that the remainders of the gang were 
near did not pursue them, but sent for more force. 

Continuing on to Denton, they stopped at the Lacy House on 
Saturday afternoon, (once the home of Bass) while there the no- 
torious Sam Bass and a number of his associates appeared on the 
outskirts of the town and, according to one statement, rode into 
the city. They had heard that the Dallas party were looking for 
outlaws, and were anxious to know if they were the men whom they 
sought; if so, they would like to have them come out and try and 
take them. Messengers galloped back and forth between the excited 
and defiant crowd and their friends in the city. Finally, later in 
the evening Bass and company sent a messenger to the Dallas men 
to inform them, "that they would remain in sight of them for two 
hours and a half, and challenged them to come out and fight. They 
stood near the residence of John S. Lovejoy, Jr., (we quote from 
the Denton Monitor of a few days late) in the eastern suburbs of 
the city, plain to view from the public square. More than a hun- 
dred men saw them." 

But as the Bass party outnumbered the Dallas squad, they did 
not think it best to attempt their arrest without more assistance. 
Whether this assistance was tendered them by the officials of Denton 
is a question which we do not care to discuss. It is evident, however, 
that Mr. Geo. Smith, City Marshall, made an attempt to raise a 
posse and go to the mill, where Bass had lodged his men and was 
breathing out defiance to every man from Dallas, but failing in 
this, he started to the mill alone, and was afterwards followed by 
a few others. He soon returned with the report that Bass and party 
had skedaddled. Sheriff Eagan also offered to go out with a posse 
if the detectives would loan him their weapons, which they declined 
to do for the reason that they thought they had particular need 
of them themselves. It was also stated afterwards by the city paper 
that assistance would have been freely given to make the arrests, 
if the detectives had furnished the proper papers. But this was 
impossible, as they had obtained such description of the robbers at 
Eagle Ford as could be given by the agent and train men, and then 
followed the trail, hoping to capture the men who answered the 
description, the names of the robbers being at this time unknown to 
them. As Sheriff Eagan afterwards spent many weary days and 
nights endeavoring to capture these same men, there can be no 
doubt that if he had felt convinced that they were the right parties, 

36 Life and Adventures 

he would freely have offered his assistance to make the arrest. He 
has the reputation of a brave and efficient officer and does not 
hesitate to do his duty when he sees it clearly. 

But it is certain that the citizens of Denton were greatly in the 
dark at this time in regard to the guilt of the men, who were thus 
audaciously defying pursuit in their very midst. That Bass was 
one of the Union Pacific robbers was generally suspected, and to 
very many well known. For he had covertly admitted as much 
to many of his old neighbors. Why he was not arrested, especially 
when so great a reward was offered for him, is inexplicable. But 
there was a stubborn unwillingness to believe that Bass and his 
company had any part in the Texas train robberies. Even after the 
above developments had been made and published, we find the 
Denton Monitor, in its issue of April 13th, declaring: "There is no 
charge against any of this party, in Denton county, except Henry 
Underwood.. That is for carrying a pistol, and it is not believed he 
can be convicted on evidence. And it is not believed here that any of 
this party participated in the train robbery at Eagle Ford, at Allen or 
at Hutchins. Certain it is that they were here on Thursday night of 
last week when the Eagle Ford train robbery occurred. 

An explanation of this last statement will be found further on, 
in the sketch of Jackson's career. 

The status of the band and the condition of affairs in Denton at 
this time, is well described by a correspondent who writes in a 
letter, dated Denton, April llth: 

"Reports about the railway robbers are so numerous and com- 
plicated that it would take a Philadelphia lawyer to get at the bot- 
tom facts; so I can only give what I've heard, and leave the reader 
to draw his own conclusions. Sam Bass is the reported leader of 
the squad now. He is accused of the Nebraska train robbery and 
of every other one that has occurred since. 

"I have seen but one man who might be a robber, and he is said 
since to have been Bass, and he was certainly well prepared for a 
fight when I met him (having a Spencer, two Colts and a knife, and 
well mounted), about four miles south of Denton, last Saturday 
morning. He approached and very politely asked me 'if I had met 
any armed men?' and I told him no. He then said 'some fellows had 
tried to steal his horse that morning and he was after them,' and 
rode off. I was sin.ce told that it was Bass, and that he that day 
joined his party and went to the mill near Denton, and sent word to 
the party from Dallas, and all concerned, who were after him, that 
he v/as there and to come and take him. 

"The range of the Bass, party in Denton and .the region that 
abounds with their friends, I hear, lies between Pecan and Cooper 

of Sam Bass 37 

creeks, running east and west across the Cross Timbers, a distance 
of ten miles long, between Hickory and Elm, and about four or 
five miles wide. It is thickly timbered, and they can go over the 
whole distance and camp most anywhere without being seen, except 
by friends. They do not confine themselves to this range, but go 
into the town of Denton frequently, at night, to play ten-pins, drink, 
and have a good time generally actually getting the 'drop' upon 
an officer last Friday night and making him no very hard job 
drink with them, and leaving another friend twenty dollars in gold. 
They have committed no robberies of private property in Denton 
county, nor do they molest travelers nor any persons they meet on 
the road, and are reported civil to all. They protest their innocence, 
but swear they will never be taken alive, and the one I saw looked 
as if he was 'that sort of a fellow.' A gentleman in Denton told 
me that either Bass or Underwood sold $1,000 in gold to a citizen 
not long ago, and said he knew where $8,000 more was buried. 
Bass is said to own a saloon in Denton. The difficulties the Dallas 
party have labored under have been numerous. A few men, in a 
strange country, try to catch desperate men, well mounted and armed 
to the teeth, and knowing every inch of the ground, and with friends 
to warn them and furnish them the latest Dallas and other papers 
regularly, containing the latest movements and designs. 

"The good people of Denton have no sympathy with and give no 
aid to Bass and party, but what .can they do, scattered as they are 
over a thinly settled country? They feel very sore over the hard 
things said of them by some of the Dallas papers, and would like the 
writers to come up and put themselves in their places awhile and 
have their families and then take all out upon a lonely plantation, 
in the timbers, often miles from a neighbor, and then see if they 
would like to tackle or to capture Bass and his 'horse marines.' That 
'something is wrong in Denmark,' when men accused of crime can 
ride heavily armed over the country and into towns without being 
arrested, can send word where they are and soberly defy arrest 
no one can deny, but that does not cast a reflection upon the law- 
abiding citizens of Denton county, who are powerless scattered 
as they are, and having among them men who will aid and comfort 
the robbers." 

As this correspondent well says, there should be careful discrim- 
ination between the law-abiding people of Denton and the lawless 
characters and disreputable citizens who brought discredit upon 
the county. 

38 Life and Adventures 



Who They Were Bass The Leader And "Conductor" Frank Jack- 
son The "Engineer" A Dead Man's Head Cut Off In Self De- 
fense Seaburn Barnes Henry Underwood Captured For Nix- 
on Taken To Kearney, Nebraska Potency Of Stolen Gold- 
File and Watch Spring A Six Weeks Job Out in the Air 
Stealing the Judges Horses Across the Country Arrival in 
Bass' Camp Arkansas Johnson Young Lady Killed Not a Jim 
Crow Thief Playing Engineer. 

Although the name of each particular individual engaged in the 
different robberies was not fully and definitely known until after 
the brush at Mesquite, yet it now becomes important to the interest 
of the narrative to introduce the bandits to the reader without 
further delay. 

Bass was the leader of the gang in all the robberies and was 
dubbed "conductor" by the squad, because he always went through 
the Express and mail cars, attending in person to the safes and 
mail bags, while to 


was assigned the important duty of capturing the engineer and 
fireman. For this reason he was called the "Engineer." Being a 
man of reckless daring and cool 'determination he accomplished 
his task with remarkable success, as all the robberies well attest. 

Jackson is a native of Decatur, Wise county, Texas, and for a 
time was considered a respectable young fellow. He lived with 
Dr. Ross, of Denton, a few years. Some eighteen months ago he 
got into a difficulty with a negro on the prairies, which gave him 
much notoriety. As he was -alone with his victim, there is no ac- 
count of the tragedy but his own story. He says that the negro 
stole his horse and when he demanded his return the fellow show- 
ed fight, he then shot him down. He at once reported the matter 
to his friends, telling them that he had "shot a nigger." After 
talking to them a little while he said he didn't believe that he had 
killed him and would go and finish the job. He returned and cut 
the negro's head off. 

For this act he was brought before court and was acquitted 
it is said, on the ground of self defense. But just what danger his 
life was in while sawing a badly wounded man's head off, it is dif- 
ficult to see. 

ofSamBass 39 

After this he ranged around Denton assocating with wild fel- 
lows and leading a fast life. He accompanied Bass and Under- 
wood to San Antonio last December and was believed at that 
time and later to have been connected with the Big Spring rob- 
bery. It was currently reported in Denton during the Spring 
that Bass gave him one hundred dollars per month to go with 
him on his exploits. But this is not well substantiated, 

Jackson is believed to have assisted in all the robberies but 
that of Eagle Ford. At the requet of Bass he remained in Denton 
in company with Henry Underwood on the night of April 4th, 
in order to prevent suspicion and make the people believe that 
the gang were all at their homes. That the plan succeeded well, 
we have already seen. 


according to the best authority in the State, was in all the rob- 
beries. The same authority says that if there was a white feather 
in the gang, the plume belonged to Barnes, as his confederates 
stood in doubt of his courage. Barnes was a native of Tarrant 
county and of respectable parentage. He turned cow-boy, and 
then strayed off among "the wild fellows." Naturally enough, he 
fell in with Bass and his company. 


is generally believed to have been "the brains of the crowd." He 
came to Denton from Missouri six or seven years ago, bringing 
with him 'his family, who lately resided in Wise county. He set- 
tled on a farm, but was wild and associated much with Bass dur- 
ing his career as a horse racer. He was once arrested by Tom 
Gerren for cattle stealing, which made him a sworn enemy of the 
queer Tom. 

Because of his supposed resemblance to Tom Nixon, he was 
suspected of being the very man who numbered one of the six at 
Big Spring, and who fled with Berry. Learning that the officers 
were in pursuit of him, he fled to San Antonio, where, as we have 
already seen, the officers followed him, but failed to effect his cap- 
ture on account of a misunderstanding among themselves. After 
escaping from the Alamo city he returned across the country in 
company with Bass to his home in Denton, whither he was fol- 
lowed by Sheriff Everhart, of Sherman, and Pinkerton's detec- 
tives, and was finally captured during the last week in December. 
As he was known to be a daring and desperate fellow, his cap- 
ture was considered a very hazardous undertaking. But learn ng 
his exact whereabouts, the officers surrounded the house, dosed 
in on it pistol in hand and covered their man with the deadly 

40 LifeandAdventures 

shooting-irons before he could make his escape or offer successful 
resistance. He was at once taken to Omaha where he was confronted 
by the detective Leech, of Ogalalla, who was with the robbers the 
night they divided the gold captured at Big Spring. Leech was 
in grave dought about the prisoner's identity, and inclined to the 
belief that they had the wrong man. But Tony Waits, who ssems 
to- have engineered the matter, declared positively that Underwood 
was none other than the notorious Nixon. Underwood admitted 
that he knew Collins and Heffridge, and that he had recently been 
with Bass, but stoutly denied that he was Nixon, or that he had 
anything to do with the robbery. 

He was then taken to Ogalalla for identification by several parties 
who knew the robbers. Their opinion being somewhat against 
him, he was taken to Kearney, Buffalo county, Neb., and lodged in 

Shortly after his incarceration there, Bass, with his usual lib- 
erality, sent him a hundred dollars. He gave seven dollars of this 
money to a discharged prisoner as he left the jail, with the under- 
standing that he was to provide him some means of escape. The 
fellow was faithful to his promise, and returned with a file. With 
this and a watch spring he worked upon the hard iron for six 
weeks, and was at last rewarded for his long labor, by stepping 
out into the fresh air of night a free man. Arkansas Johnson, who 
was confined in the same jail, escaped with him. 

The two repaired at once to the stables of the district judge, 
took a pair of his best horses and galloped away towards the south. 
When morning .came they were far out of reach, and after a hard 
ride of sixteen days they neared Underwood's old tramping ground 
in Denton. Bass had by some means obtained intelligence of 
their escape and of their expected arrival. He mounted his horse 
and rode away to meet them. His search for them proved suc- 
cessful, and on Sunday evening, March 31st, just four days before 
the Eagle Ford robbery, he conducted them safely into his camp. 
Here the lucky Underwood was received with the wildest enthu- 
siasm by his old companions in dissipation. 

It has been strongly hinted that the capture of Underwood for 
Nixon was a put up job for the purpose of securing the large 
reward which was offered for the capture of the fated Berry's 
more fortunate companion. But there is not much ground for 
this charge, for the reason that Pinkerton's detectives are not al- 
lowed to receive rewards, but are paid per diem. The detectives 
were apparently persuaded that they had the right man. As for 
Sheriff Everheart, he simply effected the arrest on the papers pre- 
sented. That he received a good recompense for his trouble, and 
justly, too, there is no doubt. 

ofSamBass 41 


was a stray member of the Texas band, coming in towards the 
last. But as he played an important part in the later history of 
the gang, he is placed among them. 

Of his former life but little is known. According to the best 
information obtainable by detectives, his true name was John 
McKeen, his home in Johnson county, Mo. His father lives near 
Knob Noster, Mo. He was suspected by the detecives of being 
connected with the Union Pacific robbery, and search was at once 
instituted for him. He was discovered at Otterville, but made his 
escape. Afterwards he was traced to his father's* house in John- 
son county. In the attempt made to arrest him his sister was 
shot and killed, but he escaped. Afterwards he was captured and 
thrown into jail at Kearney. His own account of this matter, as 
given in Sam Bass' camp, was that he was arrested for stealing 

When he first appeared in camp he was received with ill favor 
by the members of the gang, even Bass himself is said to have 
had a very poor opinion of him. Some of the boys said he was 
nothing but a little "Jim Crow thief," and should never be admit- 
ted into the tony society of a band engaged in stopping 'the wheels 
of commerce and plucking plunder from rich corporations. (When 
Underwood, and his influence over the bold leader of the bandits 
was very great, assured him that he was all right, and could be 
trusted to play his part well.) That Underwood's usual sagac- 
ity did not fail him in his estimate of the shabby looking 
Missourian, was well proven afterwards. The Eagle Ford rob- 
bery occurred on the following Thursday night after his arrival in 
.camp, and as Jackson, "the engineer," remained at home, Johnson 
was elected to fill his place at the engine. This he did with re- 
markable coolness and success, capturing the engineer and fire- 
man and bringing them around in front the express car in a twinkl- 

One of the last regrets of Bass was that he did not follow 
Johnson's advice in regard to two very important matters. But 
this belongs to a later chapter. 

Briefly summoning up, we find that the Allen Station rob- 
bery was committed by Bass, the leader, Spotswood, according to 
the sworn testimony of the Express messenger (Thomas), Jack- 
son and Barnes. 

The Hutchins robbery was committed by Bass, Jackson and 
Barnes. Green Hill's name has also been mentioned in connection 

42 LifearidAdventures 

with this affair. But others, who were in Bass' camp, say that there 
were but three in the gang. 

At Eagle Ford were Bass, Arkansas Johnson, Barnes, and one 
other who is still unknown to the authorities. 



The Shadows Falling Scott and Collins in Denton Making Plans 
Waiting For "An Excitement" The Mesquite Robbery Ar- 
ranged Tripped Up By Time Pipes And Herndon. 

At the time of the advent of Underwood and Johnson in the 
camp the bandits were quartered at Bob Murphy's, fourteen miles 
beyond Denton, on the road toward Bolivar. Here they slept in 
the barn at night and remained in the woods behind the field dur- 
ing the day, where the time was whiled away playing cards, plan- 
ning future' robberies or rehearsing old adventures. 

On Saturday evening, the day before the arrival of Under- 
wood, just as the sun was sinking behind the trees and the shadows 
were falling heavily upon the greensward, two young men entered 
the camp, one of whom was to prove the evil hand of destiny to 
the band. This was Will Scott, of Dallas, a young man highly 
connected in that city. The other was William Collins, a brother 
of the fated Joel Colins, who was killed at Buffalo Station. 

Will Scott came among them as a spy, to effect the capture of 
Bass. As he furnished the greater part of the evidence by which 
some of the guilty parties were afterwards brought to justice, we 
give his story substantially as it was related in his sworn testimony 
during the late trial at Austin. 

Knowing the large reward which had been offered for the cap- 
ture of Bass for his connection with the Union Pacific robbery, 
young Scott conceived the idea of effecting his capture through 
strategy. In casting about for the means of effecting his purpose, 
it occurred to him that something might be accomplished through 
William Collins, because of the relationship formerly existing be- 
tween Joel Collins and Bass. He at once repaired to Collins' 
house and there learned that some correspondence had already 
taken place between Collins and the Jackson's. He found, too, 
that Collins also had a scheme of his own in view, the gist of which 

of Sam Bass 43 

was that he wanted to bring Bass and his companions down to 
Dallas county in order to avenge himself on some Duck Creek 
farmers who had prosecuted a number of the young men in the 
neighborhood for disturbing a merry party of dancers, driving all 
the young ladies out of the house and smashing two or three of 
the young gentlemen's heads. The affair had acquired much no- 
toriety, as it led to a libel suit with the Dallas Commercial. 

The two at once started for Denton county, not knowing the 
exact whereabouts of Bass, but believing that he could be found. 
At Denton they obtained information which led them to believe 
that he was at Bob Murphy's. A letter to Murphy was secured 
from a Denton lawyer, and they proceeded on their journey. 
When they arrived at the camp they found Bass absent in search 
of Underwood. But Jackson was there and they were received 
without disturb. 

Bass returned the next evening and various plans for new en- 
terprises were talked over between him and the new comers. Scott 
proposed the robbery of a Dallas bank, and a plan to rob a bank 
at Weatherford was also considered. 

The band then left Murphy's and rode down towards Denton. 
While on the way some parties were seen coming from the oppo- 
site dire.ction. Barnes at once dropped at the rear and lagged 
behind. "Are you not afraid to meet people in this way?" said 
one of the new comers to the robber chief. "Oh, no," replied 
Bass, "but Barnes back there always gets uneasy and wants to get 
out of the way." 

The next day various plans were again discussed and finally 
Bass told them that when they heard of another excitement (mean- 
ing another robbery) they should return and he would go into some 
operation with them. 

Collins and Scott left them a few miles below Denton and re- 
turned to their homes. 

- The next Thursday night the Eagle Ford robbery was com- 
mitted, and as soon as Collins heard of it he started for Denton. 
As wa have already seen, Bass and his men were galloping around 
Denton on Saturday. Collins must have found them some place 
in that vicinty. On Sunday a plan for another robbery was dis- 
cussed and it was finally agreed to try still another train, th;s 
time at Mesquite, a small station on the Texas & Pacific Railroad, 
a few miles east of Dallas. 

During Monday and Monday night the party found their way 
to William Collins' house, situated in Dallas county, some twelve 
or fourteen miles east of the city of Dallas. On Tuesday young 
Scott set out again for a visit to Collins, to see what he was going 

44 Life and Adventures 

to do, now that "the excitement" had been heard of. He found 
that Collins had already been to Denton and that the whole band 
were right there. 

It was now Tuesday evening, and that night was set for the 
robbery. Collins had been to Mesquite that day and pronounced 
everything all right. Bass' party consisted of himself, Jackson, 
Barnes, Underwood and Arkansas Johnson. To these had been 
added Sam Pipes and Albert Herndon, two yong men who had 
lived in the neighborhood for some two weeks, working upon the 
farm by day and having a wild time at night. They both figured 
in the assault upon the dancing party. 

After nightfall the party mounted their horses and set out for 
Mesquite, William Collins accompanying them. But as the train 
was late, and as they reached the station a little after the regular 
time for it to pass, they thought it had already gone by and returned 
to Collins' place. Here they concealed themselves during Wednes- 
day. When night came, a parley ensued as to who should go, Bass 
objecting to so large a party. He said that the booty was likely to 
be small at best and would not reward a large crowd. He also 
said he would rather have his new friends act as outside men; that 
they could do more good in that capacity than by going under 
fire. William Collins mounted his horse, but finally yielded to the 
chief's persuasion and got down. Henry Collins was all the time 
averse to having anything to do with the affair, and besought Pipes 
to the last not to go, telling him that that night would not end the 
matter; that a day might come when this expedition would prove a 
sad affair. But Pipes was "train struck" and would listen to no 
reason. It is said that he formerly lived in Missouri near the ren- 
dezvous of the James and Younger brothers and that evil shadows 
had fallen across the bright beams of childhood fancy. Be that as 
it may, himself and Herndon accompanied the band, making seven 
in all. This turn in affairs relieved Scott from all necessity of par- 
ticipating in the affair. 

of Sam Bass 45 



A Sharp Fight Brave Conductor Firing From Underneath The 
Train Convict Guards Emipty Their Shot-Guns Passengers 
Flat on the Floor A Woman Who Wouldn't Hold Up Her 
Hands Determined Resistance of the Messenger Threatened 
With Fire Car Saturated With Coal Oil Surrender Wounded 
Robbers Captain Alvord. 

At the close of the last chapter we left the banditti mounted and 
ready to ride away under cover of darkness to meet the evening 
train. The plan of the robbery seems to have been the same as the 
one previously executed with so much success. But it was greatly 
disconcerted by the bravery of the conductor and express messen- 
ger. The near presence of a conv : ct contraction train, surrounded 
by several guards armsd with double-barreled shotguns, also added 
much to the confusion. The last robbery really proved the only 
exciting one of the whole series, and had there been a few more 
determined men on board the train, it might have resulted very 
disastrously to the reckless bandits. From the reports published 
next day and from subsequent developments, we gather the follow- 
ing account of the fight: 

"When the hour for the train arrived the robbers stood under 
cover of darkness just behind the depot. Soon the roaring sound 
of the cars was heard and a few moments later the train was seen 
rushing in from the east. The whistle sounded and the lo.comotive 
stood at the depot. Before it had fairly ceased its puffing and 
snorting, the cry, 'hold up your hands! hold up your hands!' rang 
out upon the air. 

"Captain Julius Alvord, the conductor, who was on the sleeper, 
had just stepped forward to the front passenger car and on to the 
platform. He had his lantern in his hancl. He saw some parties 
near him who called to him to come to them, cursing him as they did 
so. He managed to put out his lantern as soon as possible and step- 
ped on to the car, crossing over to the other side from the depot, 
he went imediately to the sleeping car and got a larger pistol. He 
had with him a small derringer. He put this in his coat pocket and 
took his larger pistol in his hand, went to the rear of the sleeper, 
and opened fire on his enemies with the pistol. There were three 
parties firing on him, and being too much exposed he went down 
the steps off the platform, and at this time he was shot through the 
arm and a large hole shot in the back of his hat. He passed between 

46 Life and Advent u r e s 

the cars to the opposite side of the car from the robbers, with them 
still firing on him. The engineer here attempted to start the train, 
but was stopped, only moving a short space. Conductor Alvord then 
took his position under the car and continued his firing. From this 
position he made several shots, but his wound became so painful 
he came out and re-entered the second-class coach. He found the 
passengers flat on the floor. He examined his wound by the dim- 
light, and concluded to go to the sleeper and have it bound up. 
When he stepped from the second to the first-class car, several 
shots were fired at him. He looked to see that no one was near 
when he came out, but the robbers, while they were not in sight, 
kept shooting. Before entering the sleeper he stuck his head out 
and called to them, and asked them what they wanted. They 
asked him who he was, and he said, 'a passenger.' They replied, 
'we want money.' They cursed him, and fired on him. He then 
went into the sleeper. His wound was bleeding profusely, and 
he took a sheet and bound up his arm and laid down. There were 
in the sleeper two gentlemen and their wives, going to Fort Worth. 
One of the gentlemen had considerable mony. He had concealed 
it in different part of the car, thinking if they found part of it 
he would still have some left. He was dressing; was very cool; 
he said: 'Conductor, I have a pistol, can I do anything? If you 
say so, I will go out and try them.' Captain Alvord told him to 
remain there and shoot them if they tried to come in. There were 
about twenty passengers on board, and seven of them were ladies. 
No one else offered assistance. Captain Alvord thought he hit one 
of the men with his second shot, as he fell back suddenly to a pile 
of lumber immediately after he fired. The porter also heard them 
talking at the rear of the sleeper, and thought one was shot. The 
porter also heard hem speak of Conductor Alvord, saying, 'He is 
a brave fellow, it would be too bad to kill him.' 

"Mr. D. J. Healey, at the time clerk at the Windsor Hotel, in 
Dallas, had quite a little experience, and his story will not be with- 
out interest: He left the city at 5:10 going east, and went up 
to Terrell, where he met the western-bound train. When near 
Mesquite he said he stepped on the platform so as to gain as much 
time as possible. He wanted to see the agent at Mesquite, who 
was a personal friend of his. He says he was the first man on 
the platform; that he got off before the train stopped. As he 
stepped down he saw a man step on the platform a short distance 
off, who was soon followed by eight or ten more. He started for- 
ward and the first man made for him, while the others started for 
the express car. The man who came to him presented his pistol, 
and told him to come on, and to throw up his hands. He took in 

of Sam Bass 47 

the situation at once, and told him that he was not armed. He 
did not follow very rapidly, and the fellow kept curs ng him. 
The robber went backwards, and he followed the pistol. The 
engineer made an attempt to start the train; Healey's guard 
became excited and started to assist the others to stop it, hallooing 
'don't let them get away.' He took advantage of the absence 
and took $100 out of his vest pocket and put it in his boot. 
When he started to raise up from doing this the robber came on 
him with pistol in hand and again ordered him to follow. He started 
along slowly, keeping his eyes on the man in front, when some 
one came behind him and struck him on the side of the head with 
what he supposed was a pistol. It stunned him a little, and as he re- 
vived he told the fellow he was a coward. He looked round but could 
not tell who struck him. He then watched his chance to get away. 
His guard soon gave him an opportunity by leaving him a few pa.ces, 
going toward the express car. 

He whirled and ran, and the robber fired; he ran east; he had 
run a short distance when he looked back and found he was still 
pursued; the robber again fired, and then returned to the train. 
He ran along the road until he came to the construction train 
where the convicts were; he hid under the train and stayed there 
about twenty minutes, when he approached the guards on the 
construction train and told them what was up. There were eleven 
guards on the construction train, and one went down the track 
and encountered a picket from the robbers' force. The robber 
fired and the guard returned the fire. Healey said he wanted to 
get to the train but could not tell when to approach; he finally 
started, but before he reached the train it pulled out and he was 
left. While lying under the construction train he heard the sound 
of horses' feet, at the same time the robbers were still firing 
around the train. As the guards who had charge of the convicts 
could not leave them they fired a number of shots from their 
posts, and with some effect, as we shall see hereafter. 

In the meantime one of the robbers had, as usual, taken charge 
of the engineer and fireman with a cocked revolver. Another 
subdued the station agent by the same means, but a woman who 
lived at the station, proved a much more refractory subject. In 
spite of all comands to hold up her hands, to stop, etc., she ran 
away to her room and locked herself in. "Conductor" Bass and 
two of his confederates repaired at once to the Express car to 
"administer" on its effects. But Mr. Curley, the messenger, was 
a very determined man and faithful employe, and thought he could 
take much better care of the company's property than Conductor 
Bass or any of his trusty fellows. When commanded to open the 

48 Life a to d Adventures 

door he positively refused to obey. The bandits told him "that 
if he didn't open it they would break it in." He told them to "go 
ahead." But as the shrewd Bass was well aware that the brave 
Curley and a heavily armed guard stood within with cocked re- 
volvers in their hands, and would have nothing to do but pull the 
trigger the moment he showed his head, he thought it wise not 
to execute his threat. He then shouted to them that if they didn't 
draw the bolts and swing back the door, he would set fire to the car 
and burn them up. They replied that they wouldn't do it. Then 
a can of oil, which had been hidden at a convenient place under 
the platform, was brought out and the car saturated with oil. 
Bass informed the messenger what he had done, and said he would 
give him just two minutes to surrender. Knowing the desperate 
character of the men, Mr. Curley concluded to surrender. The 
door was shoved back, and the robbers entered the car. After 
a hasty and almost fruitless search they retired. The mail car was 
also visited and a few registered letters were taken from the bags. 
The whole amount of money secured made but twenty-three dollars 
apiece for the seven robbers. 

The bandits retreated to the horses which were hitched near- 
by, and mounted and rode away. 

The rapid firing had awakened some of the citizens living near by, 
and one or two approached and fired at the assailants, but no 
one thought it wise to attempt to pursue them. 

Afterwards it was learned that three of the robbers were wounded 
in the fight. Pipes received a shot in the side, which proved a 
very damaging fact against him afterwards. Underwood and Barnes 
were both wounded in the limbs, but not seriously. The former 
hurried away to Denton, but the latter is said to have gone to 
William Collins' place, where he lay for a day or two concealed 
in a hay-stack. 

Captain Alvord continued on to Dallas, where he was taken to 
the Windsor Hotel and at once received medical treatment. It 
was found that the ulna of the left arm was badly shattered. The 
wound proved verp painful but not dangerous. On examination 
of his hat, it was found that a very close call had been made for 
his head, as a large piece had been shot out of the back part of 
the hat. 

Captain Alvord is a single man about thirty-five years old, and 
was born in New York, leaving there when about seventeen years 
of age. Before the war he was connected with the 0. & M. R. R., 
and also the Hannibal and St. Joe. He entered the army in the 
30th Illinois regiment as a private, was afterwards promoted and 
when mustered out was Adjutant. Since the war six years of his 

ofSamBass 49 

life was spent with the M., K. & T. R. R., and for the past two 
years he has been on the T. & P. R. R. He is a man of great 
nerve, and has been much praised for his heroic defense of his 
train. Mr. Curley was also very highly commended for his bravery. 
This was the last of the Texas train robberies, and we come now 
to another turn in the history. 



Public Feeling at A High Pitch Loud Calls To The Governor^- 
Major Jones on the Ground Detectives Hurring Up Company 
Of Rangers Organized Arrest Of Pipes And Herndon Billy 
Collins Going To Swear Them Out His Arrest Attempt To 
Betray Bass Plan To Rob A Dallas Bank. 

It would be impossible to describe the excitement and indig- 
nation which this fourth robbery produced. 

The next morning as soon as the news spread over Dallas in- 
tense feeling was manifested and it continued to increase as the day 
advanced. Men walked the streets with stern faces and clenching 
their fists declared that this thing must be stopped if it took the 
whole State of Texas to do it. It was felt that local authorities had 
been somewhat remiss in the performance of duty or were totally 
unable to cope with the gigantic proportions which the evil was 
assuming. Loud calls were made for more determined action on 
the part of the Governor. That official had written not long be- 
fore to the railroad officers, in answer to an inquiry from them, as 

"Be assured I will hereafter, as heretofore, offer in proper cases 
suitable rewards for the capture and conviction of all such criminals. 
Whatever power the law gives to the executive will be promptly 
exercised in aid of yourself and the civil authorities, towards 
providing against the recurrence to robberies of our railway trains, 
and to secure the speedy arrest and punishment of the felons who 
perpetrate them." 

He was now vehemently urged by the State press to come 
forward with whatever aid lay in his power. 

Major Jones, commander of the State police, was at once sent 

50 L i fe and Adventures 

to Dallas to institute a vigorous search for the robbers. The city 
was also full of detectives, while sheriffs, constables and policemen 
were flying about in every direction. Every few days some poor 
fellow, who happened to have the smell of powder on his clothes 
or a wild look in the corner of his eye, was gobbled up and brought 
to town. But he always turned out to be the wrong man. 

Major Jones proceeded to organize a small company of mount- 
ed police, or rangers, consisting of thirty picked men. These were 
sworn in on May 18th and placed in command of Lieutenant June 
Peak, formerly Recorder of Dallas. 

In the mean time the Major had fallen in with Will Scott, who 
told him that he had been making some effort to decoy Bass into 
a corner where he might be captured, and that he had obtained 
some valuable information. This information was then imparted 
to him and thus the commander of the State forces was placed in 
possession of all the facts relating to the robberies, the idenity of 
the guilty parties and their hiding places. These facts have al- 
ready been given in the narrative. 

As it was known that Pipes and 'Herndon were still in the 
county and that frequently they came to the city, steps were im- 
mediately taken to arrest them. 

A plan was arranged that Scott should go out to the Collins 
place and reconnoitre. If the two were there he would remain 
over night and Major Jones could come out and effect the capture, 
if not he would return to camp. As he did not return, Major Jones 
went out and found Scott and Henry Collins and Pipes at Mr. 
Collins* house. 

They were all put under arrest. Scott then informed him that 
Albert Herndon was at Mr. T. J. Jackson's, some few miles away. 
A negro arrested on the outside of the house also gave the same 
information. Scott and Henry Collins were then turned loose, and 
Herndon was arrested and the two were brought to town. They 
very emphatically denied their guilt and seemed indifferent to 
proceedings. After a preliminary examination they were admitted 
to bail which was promptly furnished and they were turned loose 

About this time, John and Morris Griffin, on trial for robbing 
the Express Company at Paris of ten thousand dollars, were found 
guilty, but only sentenced to two years' imprisonment. 

Major Jones learning this fact concluded to change the case 
against Pipes and Herndon to the Federal District Court. New 
papers were accordingly taken out and the young men were again 
arrested and had a hearing before U. S. Commissioner Fearn. 
They were also taken to the jail and searched, as it had become 

of Sam Bass 51 

known that one of them had been wounded. No marks were 
found upon Herndon, but a small scab was discovered on Pipes' 
left side. When questioned in regard to it he said that it was a 
little boil, then he admitted that it was a pistol shot wound which 
he had received from one of his comrades in the country, but he 
had concealed the matter to keep the man out of trouble. He 
became somewhat confused in his story, looked despondent and 
it was plain to the officers that he would be glad indeed to get his 
shirt back over that scab. 

Commissioner Fearn, held the parties to appear before the 
Federal Judge at the next term of court, the bonds being fixed at 
$15,000 each. This they were soon prepared to give. But U. S. 
Marshall Russell, who had taken charge of them, received a tele- 
gram from Judge Duval, stating that he had sent a bench warrant 
to him and that the prisoners must be produced at Tyler. At 
eleven o'clock that night they were ironed together and put aboard 
a special train and hurried away. 

This no doubt saved some of their friends a heavy forfeiture, 
as they would probably have jumped their bonds, had they re- 
gained their liberty. This was April 26th, sixteen days after the 
Mesquite robbery. 

April 29th, William Collins was attached as a witness to ap- 
pear at Tyler. That afternoon he appeared in one of the newspa- 
per offices "to get the thing right in the papers." He was inter- 
viewed at some length. 

The substance of his statement will be found in the following 
calloquy : 

Collins. Pipes and Herndon can easily established their inno- 
cence by proving an alibi. It is true that they have been pursu- 
ing no calling for some time, but have been idle. 

Reporter.- Mr. Collins, this as you know, is urged against these 
two young men; can you tell me anything concerning it? 

Collins. They have been idle for the reason that they were mak- 
ing preparations with myself to go west with me, where I intended 
to take a drove of cattle. Pipes, who owned land in the county 
has sold it, and Herndon has leased his farm. 

Reporter. Where did these young men make their homes? 

Collins. Pipes has been living for some months at my father's 
residence, about a mile from where I live in the Wliite Rock 
neighborhood, and Herndon has made his home at my house, stay- 
ing there most of his time. 

Reporter. You say they can establish an alibi on the night of 
the Mesquite train robbery. Will you tell me what facts you feel 

52 Life and Adventures 

justified in making known as to their whereabouts on that night 
and the nature of the proof they can make? 

Collins. Pipes and Hernon were both at my house that night. 
They went to bed about ten o'clock, and I and my wife will both 
establish the fact that they both staid at my house up to that hour. 
I saw them go to bed myself in a room above my own from which 
they could not have left during the night without passing through 
my bed-room. The next morning early they were still in their 
room, and I saw them both get up. There are persons who work 
on my place by whom they can prove that they were at my house 
that night. 

Reporter. I suppose there is no doubt that Pipes has about his 
person a gun-shot wound received at that time? 

Collins. Oh, yes! Pipes has a wound but it was received bs- 
fore the Mesquite train robbery. I know all about it. It was an 
accident and it was made with a little old pistol which is at my 
house now. That matter will be satisfactorily explained and made 
perfectly clear at the proper time. 

Reporter. If these young men can so easily establish their in- 
nocence in other words, if there is so little grounds for their ar- 
rest, what do you suppose has led to their being suspected and 

Collins. .Well, I don't know, but suppose persons at enmity with 
them have put up a job on them for the purpose of injuring and 
harassing them. 

The following description of Collins appeared with the report 
of this interview: 

He is a young man, apparently between twenty-five and thirty 
years of age; is tall and well formed; has a frank, open, honest- 
looking face, a clear grey eye, high forehead, dark hair, and is very 
intelligent, conversing well and at perfect ease. 

It was remarked after the handsome but unfortunate young 
man passed out of the room, that unless Marshall Russell and Ma- 
jor Jones were much less shrewd than they have credit for being 
Collins would soon be behind the bars with his old friends. This 
remark proved correct, as Collins found an indictment waiting for 
him at Tyler, and he was at once put under arrest. 

An indictment was also found against Henry Collins, but he 
has not yet been captured, as he became alarmed after the arrest 
of his brother and joined the Bass gang. 

In the mean time Scott Mayes, a saloon keeper at Denton, and 
a negro named Scaggs of the same place, had also been arrested 
and taken to Tyler. They were charged with being accessories to 
the fact. 

of Sam Bass 53 


Soon after this, May 2nd, Bob Murphy, a cattle man in Denton, 
and Green Hill, a sporting character, were arrested at their homes 
in Denton and taken directly to Tyler. They were charged with 
being accessories to the robberies. 

On the same day Sheriff Everheart, of Grayson county, ar- 
rested Henderson Murphy, father of Bob Murphy, Jim Murphy 
and Monroe Hill. They were all charged with being accessories 
and also with harboring Bass and his party. It was alleged that 
about a week before the arrest, the gang had a frolic at old man 
Murphy's house, where Underwood's wife was boarding; that they 
cut up "high jinks" and had a "high old time," practicing with 
their pistols and boasting what they would do with the rangers. 

Just after the arrest of Pipes and Herndon, Scott determined 
to make another visit to Bass' camp. After consultation with Ma- 
jor Jones he set out for Denton and succeeded in finding Bass at 
Green Hill's, about six miles below Denton. He informed him of 
the arrest of Pipes and Herndon, but nevertheless found Bass wil- 
ling to enter into a plan to rob a Dallas bank. The exchange 
Bank, of Gaston and Thomas, was agreed upon as the proper one 
to "go through." (It is not on a record that Bass made any mention 
of the State Saving Bank.) The plan was partly mapped out but 
left in an indefinite shape, Will Scott returning to Dallas to com- 
plete the arrangements. 

But in the meantime Bill Collins had become suspicious of Scott 
and sent a letter to Bass by Mayes, telling him that Scott was 
a spy, and exhorting him to hang him to the "handiest" bush. Scott 
was anxious, however, to return, but Major Jones, with more mature 
judgment, saw the danger and forbade his going. The Major 
was also averse to the plan to rob the bank, as he knew that the 
bandits were a desperate set of fellows and in the confusion of 
the moment some harm might be done to persons employed at 
the bank, and that the robbers might succeed in capturing the 
contents of the safe and escaping. In other words he did not 
care to be held liable for damage to property w<Ith so poor a prospect 
of success. 

54 Life and Adventures 



Swarms of Pursuers on the Trail The Ball Opened Driving 
Them Through The Woods The Air Polled With Random Bullets 

A Red-Hot Breakfast Escape To The Western Mountains 

The Game Sprung Again Two Days' Fight Four Foolish Farm- 
ers Who Turned Robber Hunters And Got Captured. 

The great summer campaign against Bass which continued until 
the last of June, was opened about April 24th. More men were 
employed in this campaign, more powder burned, more bullets buried 
in post oaks and green hillsides, more horses rode to death, more 
ground galloped over, more faise alarms given, more prophecies 
blown into thin air, more expectations blasted and fewer men captur- 
ed than ever before occurred in any similar campaign in human 
history. Of course we do not include in this statement the prisoners 
who quietly submitted to arrest at their homes, making no attempt 
to escape. 

About the date mentioned above, Bass' old tramping ground in 
Denton county began to swarm with rangers, detectives, sheriffs, and 
the now excited citizens of the county. On that day Sheriff Eagan 
had a brush about a mile and a half west of Denton with the now 
bold, bad man, who in better days gathered with his family at his 
own fireside. Nothing was accomplished by the skirmish, and noth- 
ing more was attempted until early the next week. Then Sheriff 
Eagan again took the war-path followed by a host of deputies and 
all the excited citizens who could find a gun, borrow a horse or 
seize the steed of some unfortunate farmer who happened to be in 
town. Peak also arrived in Elm Fork bottom at the same time with 
his company of rangers. It is said by an eye witness that there were 
fully 150 men on the trail. The Denton people felt the strictures 
which had been made upon their county and were determined to rid 
it of the bad gang who had so long defied arrest. 

A correspondent who witnessed the scene gave the following 
description of it: 

"They had them corralled once or twice, but Captain Bass & Co. 
did not seem to care for the fight much, and depended on the run 
for it. Many shots were fired. The 'flying couriers/ as Bill Arp 
used to call them, were out in full force and made their Texas ponies' 
hearts sick. Every ten minutes one would come dashing up to the 
court house at full break neck speed to report progress. One would 

of Sam Bass 55 

say 'they had sent him back because his horse was broken down;' 
but all agreed that 'they'd have Bass sure before nightfall.' 

"Your correspondent took an excursion into the 'bottoms.' Flank- 
ing the 'flying couriers' he saw some rare shooting of Winchester's 
and Spencers at random. He caught a glimpse of Captain Bass 
and his party a little distance off. Bass sat on his horse like a 
Comanche Indian, and didn't seem to care a continental for hurting 
any of the pursuing party. He and Underwood left the horses 
they were riding and took it afoot. Judge Hogg captured Bass' 
horse; but down into those everlasting, hidden bottoms went Bass 
& Co. In this skirmish Deputy Marshall Minor, of Denton, had a 
rare tumble from and with his horse. They rolled over and over 
and looked like fourteen gentlemen in one. Sergeant Minor re- 
turned to Denton to report a sprained ankle. 

"Judge Hogg, Capt F. E. Finer and Capt. T. Daugherty were 
out after the desperadoes, as were all the prominent citizens. The 
saloon keepers, who were accused of harboring and encouraging 
the Bass party, were also out in force, and if they could have been 
captured in these terrible bottoms, I believe it would have been done. 

" The people of Denton are as hospitable, as kind, and as law-abid- 
ing a people as I have ever met in Texas. The reason Bass gives for 
coming to Denton is a sensible one and a good excuse for his leaving 
here. Dallas, Collins, Ellis, Tarrant and other of our counties are 
high and rolling, with but few hiding places, but when you strike 
the cross timbers up here and get into Elm and Hickory bottoms, 
you see four or five Chickahominy swamps all boiled down into one. 
The foliage is dense the vines hang in masses and the undergrowth 
thick, and it is not good daylight until 12, noon. Now, Bass, Under- 
wood and company, knew these 'bottoms' thoroughly. For nearly 
a year, and before that, they have made every 'hog path' a study, 
and they knew them as well as 'Marion and his men' knew the 
swamps of the Pedee in South Carolina. That they would naturally 
resort to such a section in their* trouble, any one who has been 
through them can see at a glance. The section lying between Elm, 
Hickory, Pecan, Copper, and Little Elm, surrounding Denton city 
north, southeast and west, with the Cross Timbers and the grand 
prairie to hide and run in, affords a place for the operations of a small 
force of armed and desperate horsemen, such as is not to be found 
elsewhere in the United States. 

"That no one was killed is easily accounted for. A lot of green sol- 
diers were after men trained to the bottoms, and to hardship. Firing 
with Winchester rifles or Spencers from the hip, on a horse galloping 
through the dense timbers of the buttoms, is not likely to hurt any 
body much. Bass and party knew this, and though it is said Jackson's 

56 LifeandAdventures 

ear was shot off, the only wounded men I saw were Sergeant Minor, 
whose horse fell on him, and a young Mr. Hart, who placed his Win- 
chester upon the toe of his boot and shot one of his toes off. 

"Of course, all engaged had wonderful stories to tell. 'How terribly 
they rode to the front, and all that, but the truth is, 'Captain Bass 
and his Horse Marines' 5 or 7 to 150, 'got away with them/ after 
three days riding around and firing and as 'Charely,' of the Denton 
Monitor says, 'they're lit out and lit." That they have gone all the 
good people here rejoice to know, and so will every one be glad if 
they meet with their deserts. That they are bold, desperate, deter- 
mined men, no one who has seen their ways can doubt. They have 
sworn 'to die before being taken alive,' and every one who knows the 
men think they mean what they say. But let justice be done to Den- 
ton county and her good people, and hereafter, 'let him who is with- 
out sin cast the first stone." 

The correspondent was right at that time in saying that the band 
had fled from the country. The three days' fighting alluded to oc- 
curred April 30th and May 1st and 2nd. On Wednesday morning, May 
1st, Lieutenant Peak came upon Bass while he was preparing to eat 
his breakfast, in the woods about four miles southeast of Denton. 
The bandits had barely time to escape, leaving their food on the fire. 
One horse was captured. They at once turned their course towards 
the west, closely pursued by the rangers. On Thursday they were 
heard of in Wise county and on Thursday night Peak arrived with his 
command at Decatur, the county seat of Wise. On Saturday, May 
4th, a telegram was received from Decatur, saying that Peak had di- 
vided his command and was scouringWest Fork bottom. 

But Bass and his men being well acquainted with the country, 
made good their escape and nothing worse was heard of them for 
some days. 

Sheriff Everheart, who with his usual alacrity and courage 
had been actively engaged in the pursuit, returned to Sherman 
May 17th and reported that he did not know where Bass was, though 
he thought he was in Denton or Wise county. He said the whole 
country, through Denton and Wise counties, was alive with scouting 
parties out after Bass, and that his operations were greatly retarded 
by these bands of zealous but inexperienced robber hunters. On 
two different occasions his squad was charged and captured by 
companies of citizens. He said also that there were bands of men 
pretending to hunt Bass who were really his accomplices and keeping 
him posted in regard to the movements of the troops. 

Sheriff Eagan was also heard from about the same time and 
reported that he was in Montague county and believed that Bass 
was making for the Indian Territory. 

It was a general belief at that time that he was trying to reach 

ofSamBass 57 

the Territory or the Nation. Certain it was that he had vanished 
in the tangle wood of the western counties, and nothing more 
was heard from him for something over two weeks. The public 
began to think that the gang had surely enough escaped from 
the State. But suddenly the following telegram was flashed across 
the wires: 

Griffin, Texas, May 18. 

"Sam Bass with five of his men is surrounded on Big Caddo 
Creek by Barry Meadows, sheriff of Stevens county. Meadows 
was re-enforced by ten men from Palo Pinto last night at 2 o'clock. 
He expected to make the attack at daylight this morning. Some 
fighting was done yesterday and the day before. No damage done 
on our side. It is not known whether any outlaws were hurt." 

The manner in which they were discovered and the incidents 
of the attempted capture, were furnished by a correspondent of 
the Fort Worth Democrat as follows: 

"Deputy Sheriff Freeman was informed last week by a wom- 
an of the neighborhood, near Caddo Creek, that parties answer- 
ing to the description of the tra ! n robbers were there. He, with 
one ranger, and Messrs. Amis and Paschall of this town, went into 
that section to ascertain something more dfinite, and learned that 
Bass, Underwood, Jaskson, Barnes, and two others, supposed to be 
Welch and Collins, (Henry Colins had join'ed the band some 
time previous to this), had been camped there in the mountains 
for upward of two weeks. A brother-in-law of Jackson, and sev- 
eral other kin and friends are living near Caddo Creek, and had 
furnished them with supplies. They are reported to be flush with 
twenty dollar gold pieces, and from events developed more recent- 
ly, they are found to have numerous friends in that vicinity. Hav- 
ing gathered the desired information, the ranger reported to his 
camp in Shackelford county, and the balance repaired to Breck- 
enridge, where Sheriff Meadows and Deputies Freeman and Hood 
selected several picked men, and on Sunday started for the scene 
of action. At midnight they sent back for reinforcements, and 
twenty old shot guns were collected together and the same num- 
ber of volunteers. Before all of these new recruits arrived, the 
sheriff's posse came upon the gang near the store, thirteen miles 
east of here, on the Palo Finto road, and an engagement ensued, 
in about forty shots were fired by each party, and at one 
time three of the party dismounted and fought from behind trees. 
It is thought one of the'r horses was wounded. They afterwards 
chased the robbers about two miles into the mountains. As the 
gang was so much better armed than the Sheriff's party, and were 
acquainted with the locality of the mountain defiles, they then had 
little to fear. On Monday night they camped among the trees 

58 Life and Adventures 

and thickets near Taylor's store, and the sheriff's party on the 
prairie one-third mile distant. 

"Tuesday morning, May 26th, the Sheriff and his posse were 
gladdened by the arrival of the gallant rangers from Shackleford 
county, nineteen in number, armed to the teeth, and their force 
had also been increased by Deputy Sheriff Owen and eight picked 
men from Palo Pinto town. The rangers were under command of 
Lieut. Campbell and Sergeant Jack Smith, and the Breckenridge 
party of fearless Deputy Sheriff Freeman. Sergeant Smith, of the 
rangers, stated that if they could find them, they would capture 
the robbers dead or alive, if they lost half their men in the at- 
tempt. On Tuesday th3y followed their trail through mountains 
gaps and defiles, and among the hills and valleys in their winding 
course, but up to twelve o'clock last night had not overtaken 
them, though the gang had come back to near the starting 
point. At McClasen's store, four miles further east, they purchased 
eight dollars' worth of provisions, and left word for the pursuers 
that they would stand their ground and give them a desperate 
fight, and that they did not propose to be bull-dozed, all of which 
is supposed to be a blind, and that they in reality wera preparing 
to strike out for parts unknown. It was ascertained that they had 
been trying to swap off one of their horses. They are said to 
be well mounted and each armed with a Winchester rifle and a pair 
of six shooters. Before the arrival of the rangers the Sheriff had 
summoned four or five citizens in that neighborhood to secure 
arms and join his posse. 

"The Bass gang passed the same party soon after, before 
they had obtained arms, marched them dowTi to the store and 
treated to bottle beer. It is said that parties in that vicinity have 
carried the Bass gang baskets of provisions and kept them in- 
formed of the movement of their pursuers. One of the gang, it is 
reported, is suffering from a wound received in Denton county. 
One of them remarked to some person at the store that they were 
no petty thieves, that they interfered with no private citizen, but 
holding out a handful of twenty-dollar gold pieces, 'that is what 
the Sheriff and his posse want." 

"They are said to have $5,000 with them and to have buried 
the balance. In getting volunteers from Breckenridge, it was quite 
manifest that a greater portion of the citizens considered it their 
duty to join the home guard and gallantly paraded the streets 
in their vig.lance to find Bass whom they proposed to demolish 

"The rangers from Coleman county are expected across the 
country, to intercept them in case of a retreat in that direction. 

of Sam Bass 59 

Additional parties from Griffin passed here last night to join the 
forces and aid in the capture. 

But all efforts to surround them proved unavailing and a few 
days later, May 31st, it was telegraphed from Breckenridge that 
the Sheriff's posse and rangers had given up the chase after Sam 
Bass and party and that they left Bass boss of the situation in the 
cedar brakes and mountains, fifteen miles east of that place, where 
they easily eluded their pursuers. 

During this "drive" after Bass the following amusing incident 
is reported to have occurred. We give it as told in one of the 
daily papers: 

"A gentleman from the vicinity of the late scenes of the at- 
tempted capture of the Bass and Underwood gang, tells the follow- 
ing unexampled story in connection with a fruitless effort on the 
part of four gallant farmers who were bent on heading the robbers 
off and taking to themselves the glory and consequent profit of their 

"The rumor spread like wild-fire through the neighborhood that 

Sam Bass and his confederates were scouring through that part 

. of Shacklef ord county, brazen-faced and publicly proclaiming they 

did not give a continent damaged darning needle whether school 

kept or not. 

"Our gentleman informant, Mr. Nance, of Young county, says 
that the robbers rode up to a store located near the edge of Shack- 
leford and Young counties, purchased some provisions and after 
leaving a note stating that they were the robbers and were going 
on south-west to Taylor's store several miles beyond, paid for 
what they got and gently rode off in the direction indicated in the 
note. As quick as possible the alarm was given, and one of the 
Deputy Sheriffs of the county, accompanied by four farmers armed 
with shot-guns, started in hot pursuit and overtooked the Bass gang 
moving leisurely along the highway. 

"How to capture them was now indeed an enigma. They 
finally decided to separate, the Sheriff to remain behind and inter- 
cept a possible attempt to retrace their steps, and the four shot- 
gun heroes were to move rapidly forward in a circuit, come into 
the road suddenly on their side, and with cocked guns order their 
rich game to surrender or suffer the alternative death. The 
scheme wore the aspect of a plausible one, and the four farmers 
started to execute it. 

"Putting spurs to their horses, they shot off to the right of 
the road and were not long in getting in an obscure position by 
the road-side ahead of the robbers, where they could not be seen 
until so desired. Apparently unconcerned and careless, the four 

60 Life and Adventures 

robbers drew near, and as they got opposite, the stern demand to 
halt and surrender was given. 

"Just then a wild whoop from behind proceeded from the 
woods, startled the shot gun heroes, and in the disorder which en- 
sued, the robbers getting possession of their arms, got the drop 
on their would-be captors and turned the table by 'taking them 
into the fold.' 

"The whooping party was one of the scouts who had been fol- 
lowing the farmers and perpetrated the successful trick. All four 
of the pursuers were taken in charge, marched to Taylor's store, 
and in less than half an hour were boiling drunk through the 
hospitable treatment at the hand of their captors, who left them 
shortly after accomplishing their aim, in possession of a note cau- 
tioning them to make no such absurd attempt to bull-doze a gang 
of Sam Bass' train robbers." 



Bass Returns to His Old Stamping Ground Dashes Into Denton and 

Recaptures His Horses Long and Hot Pursuit Pursurers' 

Horses Killed and Riders Wounded Murphy Joins the Band 
Running Fight Across the Prairie Bandits Surprise at Salt 
Creek Desperate Fight Arkansas Johnson Killed End of the 
Campaign Why It Failed. 

After the escape of the band in the vicinity of Brackenridge, 
nothing more was heard of them until May 5th. 

On the evening of that day a courier suddenly dashed into the lit- 
tle town of Elizabeth, Dentcn county, and as he reigned in his foam- 
ing steed, shouted out in breathless haste that Captain Sam Bass 
was again on his old stamping ground, having just been seen in the 
neighborhood of Mr. Burnett's farm, on Denton creek, about nine 
miles distant. 

A posse was immediately collected and started in pursuit. But 
Bass was riding hard to accomplish something very different from 
an escape, and soon left farmer Burnet's place far to the rear. 

The next morning, just as the first rays of light leaped over the 
eastern woods, the dashing train catcher and his band galloped down 
the streets of Denton past the houses still closed and silent, meeting 

of Sam Bass 

here and there an early riser who gazed in astonishment at the dust- 
covered riders. Reaching the center of town they halted their weary 
steeds in front of Work's livery stable. Here they found Charles 
McDonald, an employe, who had just risen and begun his stable 

He was immediately informed that they had come for the three 
horses captured from the band by Sheriff Eagan on the 1st of May, 
and that he must "bring them horses right out." At the same time 
Bass had drawn close to him and was flourishing a revolver in close 
proximity to his face. He refused to get the horses when Jackson, 
who had also drawn near, began to strike him over the head with 
his pistol. He then commanded McDonald to stand still and sent 
Jackson and Carter, a man who had lately joined the band, into the 
stable to saddle the horses and bring them out. This was soon done 
and the band put spurs to their horses and dashed away. 

Two men, heavily armed, were sleeping in the upper story of the 
stable at the time. They heard the noise below, one of them 
siezed a double barreled shot gun, looked out of the window and 
saw Bass and his men starting away. He looked at them as they 
rode across the green into the street, but reserved his ammunition 
for a better opportunity. 

The men engaged in this daring raid were Bass, Jackson, Under- 
wood, Barnes, Arkansas Johnson and Carter. Carter is a reputed 
cattle thief, and though he had but lately joined the band, yet he 
had for some time been more or less connected with them. It is 
not known whether Henry Collins was in this raid or not. 

Before the clatter of the retreating horses hoofs had died away, 
the cry of "Bass," rang along the streets, and soon the whole 
town was in the wildest commotion. Horses were hurried from 
the stables, bridled and saddled and in less than half an hour a 
whole troop of riders dashed off in the direction taken by the 

To give a full account of this pursuit of the gang across their 
old tramping ground, from the time that they were seen near 
farmer Burnett's until they disappeared near Boliver, we intro- 
duce the details as furnished by a correspondent at the time. 
The letter was dated at Elizabeth and was written by a young man 
engaged in the pursuit. He says: 

"On Wednesday last about 4 o'clock p. m., a special courier 
arrived in Elizabeth bringing the message to Capt. Withers, dep- 
uty sheriff, that Bass and company had made their appearan.ce in 
the neighborhood of Mr. Burnett's, on Denton creek, about nine 
miles northwest of this place. Capt. Withers immediately sum- 
moned a posses to his assistance and started in pursuit, arriving 

62 LifeandAdventures 

where they were last seen about dark, and scoured the bottoms, 
which proved fruitless, the night being too dark to strike any trail. 
They dispatched a man at once to Denton and the utter darkness 
prevented his arriving there until late the next morning. 

"At daylight Capt. W.'s crowd struck the trail, which they fol- 
lowed direct to Denton. Arriving at Denton they learned that 
Bass and company had arrived there a little before daylight, taken 
from Work's livery stable the two horses which had been captured 
from him during his last trial, and went to the residence of Sheriff 
Eagan, roused him from his pleasant slumbers and told him to get 
up, "as the country was full of thieves," and then rode out of Den- 
ton. Strange to say, but yet true, a man stood on the loft of the 
stable, with a double-barreled shot-gun and a bek of cartridges, 
and let Bass proceed with the horses. 

"Withers and command, after stopping a few seconds to hear 
the tale, proceed on their trail and rounded them up at Pilot 
Knob, about six miles south of Denton, on Saturday morning, 
when they had the first battle. One of the pursuers was wounded. 
This was George Smith, the Denton marshal, who offered to ar- 
rest Bass at the mill for the Dallas men. Bass then fled. 

"Runners were sent out for recruits, one going to Denton and 
the other starting to his place, but he was overtaken by Bass, or- 
dered to dismount, and they took his saddle, cut his bridle into 
strings, turned his mule loose, and told him if they caught him 
again they would kill him. 

"They then rode off towards the timbers. But before they 
reached the trees, Captain Withers was up and made a charge, 
but Bass was too well armed and Withers had to dismount. After 
he dismounted Bass and company poured about twenty-five volleys 
right at him, cutting the ground all around him and throwing the 
dirt all over him. Bass then retreated, taking a south-easterly 

"Up to this time not over seven were in close pursuit, and Bass 
having seven in his outfit, and armed with long-ranged rifles. 

"From this place Bass started in the direction of Alton, thence 
to Ballard's Mill, thence to Davenport's Mills, pursued closely by 
the command, which now had swelled to nearly forty. At Daven- 
port's Mills Bass stopped, bought some coffee-pots and inquired 
for ammunition. It was discovered that one of Bass' men was 
shot in the side. They then took for Medlin School House, where 
Withers again came up within shooting distance and gave them a 
round, but inffectively. They then took to the timber and rounded 
and came back very nearly on the same track they went down, 
struck out by Doe Harris' and through the timber again, when 
the trail was lost about ten o'clock at night. The men being worn 

of Sam Bass 63 

out, they went to camp. The next morning at daylight they were 
again in the saddle and on the trail. After proceeding a mile and 
a half they came to where Bass had camped. The trail being fresh, 
they made good time, and came upon Bass and company cooking 
their breakfast, about a mile and a half from Ballard's Mill. Bass 
opened the fire, shooting down two of Withers' boys ponies. The 
volley was returned and one of Bass' men was shot. They then fled, 
putting the wounded man on his horse and one of the other getting 
up behind to hold him on. One of Bass' horses, his cooking utensils 
and provisions were captured. 

"Your reporter arrived at the battle-field about an hour after 
the battle and joined the boys, who then trailed Bass to the 
McKinney road, about six miles east of Denton, where the trail 
was lost about five o'clock Sunday afternoon, and we returned. 
This nearly accurately describes the whole movement. 

"Bass is well mounted, well armed and has plenty of money 
and legions of confederates in the Cross-Timbers, and it may con- 
sume a week before he is finally either shot down or captured, as 
Withers and Eagan and their men are determined to follow as 
long as any trail can be found. 

"It is said one of Bass' men has fallen out. 

"Bass has all the advantage in the world, as he has nothing to 
to do but to ride through the woods, while the other party have 
to often spend hours hunting up the trail. 

"Sunday evening two gallons of whiskey, some tobacco and 
provisions were shipped to Elm bottom from Denton, and it is 
thought it went to Bass, as he has runners in all directions. 

"He has made the remark that he intends to kill Capt. Withers 
before he leaves the country, as he believes Withers is the only 
officer in the c ountry who is seeking to arrest him. 

"From what we saw of the men's performance on Sunday 
they are all determined to have the whole outfit or die trying. 

"The whole party are very much fatigued, and their horses are 
jaded to the last. 

"The people of Denton are very much aroused and are fully 
awaked to their duty, and are rallying to the front as fast as 
they can. 

"We left about fifty men in pursuit Sunday evening, and no 
doubt the crowd is doubled by this time. Courtright and two 
others from Fort Worth caught up with the .crowd shortly after 
the battle Sunday morning, and took the lead with Withers at 

"The men from this place who have been and are still in pur- 
suit, are Jack Bates, G. M. Powell, J. Goff, M. Kinser, W. H. Berbe, 

64 Life and Adventures 

A. E. Allen, and Ed. Dunning, and are as brave and true as ever 

"Tuesday, June 11. The news came here late yesterday that 
the trail had been entirely lost in Elm bottom, and another that 
Bass and company had passed Bolivar with fifteen men strong. 
The informer said Eagan and his posses had returned to Denton, 
and Withers and his men were still in pursuit. We can hear most 
anything, but we are positive that Withers has not lost or been 
off Bass' trail one hour since he struck it on Wednesday last. 

"If they did pass Bolivar, it is almost sure that they are mak- 
ing for Lost Valley, where they will be joined by about thirty other 
outlaws, who have been traced to that point. 

"It may seem to your readers, Mr. Editor, that in four battles, 
and in the last not over fifty yards apart, that Bass surely ought 
to have been taken in ere this, but if you were better acquainted 
with some of his dodges and tricks it would appear different. 

"All the creeks had to be swum up to Sunday morning, which 
made pursuit troublesome. 

"In the fight at Pilot Knob, Riley Wetzel was shot through the 
calf of the leg by one of Eagan's men. He was conveyed back 
to Denton by Mr. Allen. 

"Later. Bass went into Bolivar Monday, bought a sack of flour, 
four sacks of coffe and clothes. He was remounted and in good 
trim. They ate their dinner near Bolivar. The crowd cannot 
be far in the rear, and no doubt will run him into Lost Valley. 
A company of rangers will be up by this evening. One Murphy 
joined Bass near Bolivar." 

This was Jim Murphy, a man who figures very prominently in 
the narrative before it closes. 

In the fight at Ballard's mentioned above, John Work, a son of 
CaptainWork, of Dallas, was wounded in the shoulder, and the firm 
had two horses killed. 

On the evening of June 10th, the same day on which Bass was 
reported to have gone into Bolivar, the band was engaged bya 
party under Sheriff Everheart in a running fight on the paririe, in 
the north part of Denton county. 

A farmer who witnessed the fight, says that when he saw them 
the Bass crowd was riding seven abreast and going at a furious gait. 
The Sheriff's party were from three to four hundred yards behind, 
stringing out single file, and spurring their horses to their utmost 
capacity. Some thirty or forty shots were fired. About three or 
four miles farther on the Bass crowd reached a strip of timber, 
dismounted and disappeared. 

The next seen of the gang was in Wise county, where they were 

ofSamBass 65 

discovered by Captain Peake and his command. The Rangers had 
followed them into the tangle wood along Salt creek, near Cotton- 
dale, on the morning of the 12th. Most of the day was spent in 
searching through the dense bushes for the hidden robbers. In the 
afternoon they were suddenly discovered lounging under the trees 
on the bank of the stream, their horses having been lariated out a 
few rods away. The Rangers at once crossed, opened fire upon them, 
and the fight which ensued was the sharpest and most successful of 
the campaign. The bandits seemed more anxious to escape to their 
horses than to fight, but the Rangers crossed the stream and headed 
them off from the horses. During the fight, one of the robbers ex- 
posed his person boldly to view, Sergeant Floyd, a crack shot of the 
Stonewall Greys, of Dallas, seeing him, dropped upon his right knee 
and taking deliberate aim fired, killing him instantly. The victim 
afterwards proved to be Arkansas Johnson. Bass was standing at 
his side, but escaped unhurt. 

Shorty after the fall of Johnson, the robbers slipped away through 
the tangle wood and escaping under the bank of the creek, concealed 
themselves in a large excavation. While here, as was afterwards 
learned, one of the Rangers came very near and stood plainly iri 
view. Jackson leveled his rifle upon him and asked Bass if he 
should shoot. The chief said, "no, not unless he turns this way." 

Underwood, however, escaped to the horses, mounted one of them 
and was returning, when he was met by Captain Peak in the woods; 
A pistol duel at once .opened, but Captain Peak shouted to his men 
and Underwood put spurs to his horse and fled. The heads of the 
robbers' horses were now seen in a clump of trees not far distant. 
As Captain Peake did not know where the robbers were, and fearing 
that they might be with the horses, he ordered his men to fire upon 
the horses, which they did and two of them were killed. The rest 
were captured. 

Johnson was buried by citizens living near the place. 

Thus ended the career of one of the bravest and most hardened 
of the gang. Though despised at first, he soon proved bold and bad 
enough for the worst undertakings of the band. Johnson showed 
more wisdom than any of his confederates in his estimate of Will 
Scott. As soon as he took a good look at him, he pronounced him 
a spy, and advised Bass to get rid of him. Bass afterwards greatly 
regretted that he did not follow the advice. One other piece of 
advice given by Johnson, was, to leave Texas and go to Arkansas 
and rob a bank. Bass also regretted that he did not take this advice. 

During this Salt creek fight Henry Underwood, Henry Collins and 
Carter disappeared.. Underwood was never seen again by Bass. 

The next night after the battle the robbers stole some horses in 

66 Life and Adventures 

the neighborhood and, as has since been learned, directed their 
course towards their old hiding places in Denton and Cooke counties. 
But they were not discovered again by their pursuers. 

The Salt Creek fight, which occurred June 12th, virtually ended 
the great campaign against Bass. It began with a light skirmish 
April 24th, and continued seven weeks. During that time Bass 
and his men were almost continually harassed by their pursuers. 
They were kept on the run day and night, through the woods, across 
prairies, over swollen streams (for unprecedented rainfalls occurred 
during a greater part of the time), on horseback and on foot, and 
they were under fire something like a score of times. But still only 
one of the band was killed and none captured. 

If the question be asked, why the campaign proved so fruitless, 
it should be answered because of the forests and the tangle wood. 
This gave the robbers all the advantage. They could hide in a 
moment, and could at any time turn upon their pursuers and shoot 
them down. That they did not kill them can only be accounted for 
on the supposition that Bass was determined not to stain his hands 
with blood if possible to escape without it. He said afterwards, 
that he frequently lay in the woods within ten feet of his pursuers, 
but allowed them to pass unmolested. 

Had he so determined, it is easy to see that he could soon have 
made it so fatal to pursuing parties that but few would have had 
the courage to follow his trail through the dense forests. 

One of the most experienced detectives in the country gives it 
as his opinion that the tramping ground selected by Bass, is one 
of the best places in the country for such purposes. In Nebraska, 
where the Union Pacific robbery was committed, and in Kansas 
where Collins was captured, the country is open, and a single horse- 
man can be seen for many miles away. It is difficult to pass in any 
direction without being discovered. But in Denton and adjoining 
counties, parties can ride through the forests for days without be- 
ing noticed. 

It must also be remembered that numerous confederates in all 
parts of the circuit constantly afforded invaluable assistance, sup- 
plying the robbers with provisions and conveying secret intelligence 
at the slightest note of alarm. 

The campaign proves, that in such a country a pell mell drive 
after robbers, is not the best way to capture" them. Brains are 
better than eyes. The keen, strategic mind runs further, faster and 
more surely than the swiftest steed. Robbers are not wise. Their 
abandoned course shows a perversion and obscuration of intellect as 
well as of morals. 

Again, all robbers are traitors to human society. By the very 

ofSamBass 67 

principle and practice of their profession they are easily led to be- 
tray one another. How well these principles were established be- 
fore the close of Bass' career, will be seen in the subsequent nar- 



Prisoners at the Bar Trial Postponed Taken to Austin A Sad 
Contrast The Man Who Killed Another for Snoring Trial and 
Conviction Confession Collins Runs Away. 

We return now to the .case of Pipes and Herndon and the other 
prisoners who had been captured and taken to Tyler to await the 
sitting of the Federal court. The bonds were fixed at a very high 
amount and the prisoners remained in jail until May 21st, when the 
case was called. 

Long before the hour for opening court the room was crowded 
with spectators eager to catch a glimpse of the men who had dared 
to put the brakes upon a train without going through the formality 
of a regular engagement with the company. 

The case was numbered 1456 and was entitled, "The United 
States vs. Sam Bass, et al. 

The Prisoners brought to the bar were Samuel Pipes and Albert 

District Attorney Evans announced ready for trial. But the 
defendants, Judge Barksdale and Sawnie Robertson, of Dallas, and 
Robertson & Robertson, of Tyler, felt persuaded that there were 
several good reas'ons for delay.. 

First they presented a plea in abatement, in substance alleging 
that two of the grand jury which preferred the indictment were 
disqualified, because they gave aid and comfort to the Confederacy 
in the late civil strife. 

Mr. Sawnie Robertson presented the motion, and in a forcible 
argument insisted that the bill should be quashed. Judge Evans 
replied on the part of the government and made a considerable 
State's rights speech. Judge Barksdale closed the argument for the 

The motion was overruled by the Judge. 

Next the defendant's counsel made a motion to transfer the case 
from the District Court to the Circuit Court of the United States. 

68 LifeandAdventures 

This met the same fate at the hands of the Court. 

Col. John C. Robertson presented additional exceptions to the 
indictment, alleging that the description of -the offense was in- 

This Judge Duval also overruled. 

Next the defense asked for a continuance, pleading the absence 
of material witnesses and moving that the continuance be granted. 
The Judge replied that there was but one ground in the application 
on which he would grant the continuance, and that was that Mrs. 
Shipley, a material witness, was sick and unable to attend. After 
careful examination the continuance was granted on this ground. 
The case was therefore postponed until the court met at Austin, 
June 24th. 

The prisoners were at once taken to Austin and placed in jail to 
await the calling of their case. , 

That they did not find this prison as pleasant as the free air of 
North Texas where they used to scamper over the prairies and run 
scrub races on Sunday and raise a wild whoop along the roads by 
night, is easily gathered from a brief description of the place given 
by one of their old neighbors, who, while attending the trial, vis- 
ited their prison. 

Passing through a hall walled in by solid masonry, the jailer un- 
bolted a pair of heavy iron doors and he found himself in a large 
room filled with rows of iron cages. It was a hot day in July, and 
a July day in Austin is not to be described by any figure of speech 
which will not stand the test of white heat. The room was dark 
and not very well aired. The men were stripped to the waist and 
the perspiraticn was drippng from their bodies. The cages were 
of solid iron bars, the floor was sheeted with iron. There were no 
bedsteads in the cells, a blanket or quilt answered all sleeping pur- 
poses. From one to three occupants were in a cage. There were 
more than three-score prisoners in all. Among them was the noto- 
rious John Wesley Hardin, accused of twenty-seven murders, and 
captured in Florida last summer, by running him off in a train of 
cars amid a shower of bullets which laid one of his confederates 
stark and stiff upon the sand and frightened a score of passengers 
out of all recollection of themselves.. John wrestled and struggled 
on the floor while the train ran twenty-five miles and then cried all 
day because he had been caught. 

He was pert and saucy as ever and advanced to the front of his 
cage for a chat. 

"This is a very bad place to come to," said he, "people better keep 
out of here. They say there is honor among thieves, but don't you 
believe it. There's not a word of truth in it. When they can't steal 

of Sam Bass 69 

from anybody else, they steal from one another." (A remark which 
had a terrible fulfillment for Bass a few days later.) "They tell 
lots of lies about me. They say I killed six or seven men for 
snoring, but it isn't true. I only killed one man for snoring." 

But Pipes and Herndon did not have to remain here long, for 
their trial opened July 2d, and after a few days delay got well un- 
der headway. It ended July 17th with a verdict of "guilty of rob- 
bing the United States mail and endangering life." The jury af- 
fixing the penalty at ninety-nine years in the penitentiary, but the 
judge sentenced them for life, the difference being somewhat imma- 
terial. | 

The principal part of the evidence for the prosecution was that 
already given in Will Scott's statements. He testified to the facts 
relatel in chapters 12 and 13. The defense attempted to break 
down his testimony by an effort to prove that he did not relate these 
facts to Major Jones until after the arrest of the prisoners at the 
bar. They also attempted to prove an alibi, somewhat according to 
the plan intended by William Collins. The wife of Collins was 
present but was not allowed to testify. 

After their conviction and especially while on their way to the 
penitentiary, the condemned men freely admitted their guilt, charg- 
ing W,illiam Collins with getting them into their troubles. They 
said they were present at Mesquite and assisted in the robbery. They 
greatly praised Curley for his heroic defense of the express car, but 
attributed the numerous little gun-shot wounds received that night 
to the buckshot fired at them by the convict guards. 

Scott Mayes, Monroe Hill and Bob Murphy were immediately re- 
arrested on another charge. Afterwards they gave bonds for their 
appearance and were set at liberty. 

Green Hill and the negro Scaggs are still in jail at Austin. 

It is a well established fact that just previous to William Collins' 
arrest he received eighteen hundred dollars from Bass. It is diffi- 
cult to discover whether this money was intended for use in the trials 
of Bass' various friends, or whether, as is claimed by parties cog- 
nizant of the transaction, it was given for the purpose of establish- 
ing a stock ranche in the West, which was to be used by Bass and 
his band as a rendezvous. 

Collins was taken with the remainder of the prisoners to Austin, 
but afterwards gave bonds in the sum of $15,000. But he jumped 
his bonds and the unfortunate sureties have been notified of the 
forfeiture by the U. S. Marshal. Unless Collins is speedily pro- 
duced, there will be a nice little bill to pay. Collins' whereabouts 
since his hasty departure are unknown. 

70 Life and Adventures 



No Honor Among Thieves Murphy Plans to Betray Bass for the 
Price of Liberty Bargain Made With the Authorities Memo- 
randum of the Contract Public Greatly Excited Two Report- 
ers Who Wanted To See Bass' Mother Immense Stretch Of 

One of the disciples was pronounced a thief and it was prophesied 
that he would betray his Master. 

John Wesley Hardin, whose native shrewdness and bitter expe- 
rience make him a good authority on the subject, says there is no 
honor among thieves. Bass had many friends who constantly be- 
trayed law and justice to shield him. At last it was found that one 
these friends was just as ready to betray Bass himself, when the 
price was offered That price was not thirty pieces of silver, but 
liberty liberty to go in the sweet sunshine and walk the green 
fields of earth. 

As we have already seen, Jim Murphy and his father Henderson 
were among the prisoners taken to Tyler. As the flying train 
hurried Murphy away to prison, he was busily ransacking his brain 
for a plan of escape, and even before he crossed the dark threshold 
of the jail he half determinded upon a sacrifice of the leader of the 
bandits who had so often assisted him with his stolen gold. 

But as no one can tell the story better than Murphy has told it 
himself, and in order to avoid all appearance of injustice to the par- 
ties concerned, we give as it came from his own pen. In his state- 
ment made at Austin, July 26th, an exact copy which has been 
furished us, he writes as follows: 

"I will give you all the true statements of the plan that was laid to 
catch Sam Bass: 

"I, W. Murphy, was arrested May 1st, 1878, by Sheriff Everheart, 
of Grayson county, for harboring Sam Bass. I was innocent of the 
charge, and told Everheart so. I asked him why he did not tell me 
long ago that he wanted Sam Bass. He gave me no answer of any 
satisfaction but pushed me off from my family and put me in jail at 
Sherman. Walter Johnson took me from the Sherman jail and put 
me in jail in Tyler. On the way to the jail at Tyler I hinted the plan 
for capturing Sam Bass to Taylor, and he said he would send John- 
son to see me soon. Johnson came to see me after I had given bond. 
I told him that I could plan a job to capture Sam Bass if I was foot 

ofSamBass 71 

loose. Johnson told me that he would see me again soon. So he 
went off and came back with June Peak, and we talked the matter 
over. June says, 'I will go and see Major Jones.'. The Major came 
and talked with me about the plan for the capture of Bass. At this 
time I made a contract with Major Jones as to what he would do for 
me and my father if I would catch Sam Bass. He said if I would lay 
the plan for the capture of Sam Bass, that he would have my case 
and my father's dismissed, and that he would see that I should have 
my part of the reward and his part too. He said that he did not 
want any of the reward, and that I should have what was right. I 
worked this plan under three men, Jones, Peak and Johnson. No- 
body else was to know anything about it. They were the men I 
relied on. After a short time Sheriff Everheart worked into the 
secret through Johnson. The first time that Everheart came to me 
I gave him no satisfaction. The second time he came a man by 
the name of Taylor was with him. Taylor told me that whatever 
Everheart told me would be all right with Johnson, and I let him 
into the secret against my own will." 

The following is the memorandum of the .contract entered into 
with U. S. Attorney Evans: 

"Whereas, James Murphy stands indicted as an accessory in 
robbing the United States mails, in several cases now pending in 
the United States District Court at Tyler, and, whereas, I believe 
public justice will be best subserved, hereby, I, Andrew J. Evans, 
United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas, bind the 
United States as follows: 

"1st. If the said Murphy should leave Tyler I .will protect 
him and his bondsmen at this term of the court. 

2nd. If the said Murphy shall be instrumental in securing 
the arrest and delivery to the United States Marshal of the West- 
ern District of Texas, of all or any one of the following principals, 
in their order (Bass, Jackson, Underwood, Barnes and Johnson) 
in said indictments, then all prosecutions are to be dismissed as to 
said Murphy ; growing out of his acts as accessory to the said prin- 
cipals; to be done upon certificate of Major John B. Jones. 

"3rd. Ir case the said Murphy shall use all reasonable and 
possible means in his power to capture the said Bass and his above 
named associates, and if Major John B. Jones will .certify to such 
facts to the United States District Attorney, then the said Murphy 
is to have the relief named in sa.ctino2nd above, although he may 
be unsuccessful. (Signed) A. J. Evans, 

May 21st, 1878. U. S. Attorney." 

This contract, as seen by the date attached, was entered into 
May 21st, the first day of the trial at Tyler. 

72; Life and Adventures 

In order to convince Murphy of his sincerity and his power to 
secure his liberation from all charges, Major Jones had the case 
against his father dismissed at once. With many admonitions to 
prove faithful and perform his task well, he was allowed to go on 
his mission. It was immediately given out that he had "jumped 
his bond," and so published in the papers. Previous to Murphy's 
departure it was arranged that he should report progress to Major 
Jones, Captain Peak or Deptuy Marshal Johnson, according as it 
was most convenient. It was also the purpose of Major Jones to 
keep Captain Peak's command at Dallas, so that Murphy would 
know where they were and could make his calculations accordingly. 
If word reached Peak that he was needed by Murphy, he was to 
hasten to the required point. If, however, it was more convenient 
to communicate with Johnson, the latter was to immediately tel- 
egraph to Captain Peak at Dallas. But on account of the pressure 
of public opinion because the public didn't understand the situa- 
tion it was found very difficult to keep Captain Peak's command 
at Dallas. . People were greatly excited and extremely nervous lest 
Bass should escape. They were also impatient of the delays and 
failures which had attended the efforts of the Sheriffs and rangers 
in Denton and the western counties. The air was constantly full 
of rumors, and every straw of Bass news was eagerly caught at by 
the reading public. Newspaper men were constantly on the alert 
for the latest, the truest or the wildest report about this "greatest of 
modern bandits." An amusing instance of this occurred to two 
newspaper reports in Dallas. 

Notwithstanding the fact that ih* grass had been green upon 
the grave of Bass' mother for seventeen years, yet one of these re- 
porters was suddenly persuaded one morning that he heard her 
name echoed through the air on the voice of the winds. He im- 
mediately laid plains to clutch the fact and make it his own. But 
we leave the story to a reporter who slyly watched proceedings 
and told it at the time as follows: 

"This morning an item reached the ears of a newspaper man 
which was full of promise. He was told in confidence that Sam 
Bass' mother was in town, and the strides he made as he struck out 
for her supposed stopping place, the St. Charles hotel, were a 
wonder to see. Here was fruit, surely and he congratulated him- 
self as he tore along at his good luck, and he chucked at the thought 
of having struck the biggest thing yet. In fact, he hadn't been so 
happy since the Saving's bank "busted." The proprietor of the hotel 
named was the first man run against, and the news gatherer press- 
ed him into service and the two proceeded to find the individual 
who could put them on the track of Sammy's mamma. Their search 

of Sam Bass 73 

was successful, and a sable gentleman with chalk eye and gizzard 
foot was ushered into the reportorial presence. Interrogatories 
breathless and pointed were put to Sambo, and imagine the conster- 
nation created when he said the venerable Mrs. B. had just depart- 
ed for Denton. 

"Knowing the utter uselessness of trying to overtake a member 
of the Bass family, the reporter determined to make the most out 
of what the darkey knew about her, and a scorching examination 
revealed the fact that the woman told him that she was 'some kin 
to Massa Bass,' and considering her elderly appearance he 'kalke- 
lated' she was his mother; and as she went towards Denton he 'kal- 
kelated' that town ^as her destination. This put a different face 
on matters, indeed. The reporter looked daggers at the 'coon, threat- 
ened to stab him through and through with a Faber, and he would 
have reached the office sadder and wiser if it had not been for the 
fact that just as he was leaving another victimized newspaper man 
came stealing around, having gotten wind of the bonanza. 'Mis- 
ery likes company,' you know, and No. 2 was permitted to work up 
the case, and together the boys shared the immense water haul." 



Murphy Joins Bass Plans to Betray Him Fail The Band Set Out 
On Their Last Trip Visit to Dallas County Muhphy's Treach- 
ery Discovered Jackson Saves Him From Death Visit to Rock- 
wall, Terrell, and Waco Searching for a Bank to Rob The Last 
Pi2ce of Stolen Gold Murphy Writes to Jones Arrival at 
Round Rock. , 

The adventures of James Murphy in the prosecution of his plan 
to capture Bass are of thrilling interest and are given nearly as he 
afterwards related. As soon as he was released at Tyler, May 21st, 
he returned to his home near the line between Denton and Cooke 
counties. At that time Bass and his gang were in the mountains 
and cedar brakes of Stephens county. Murphy could not reach them 
at the time. But about two weeks later they returned to Denton 
county, and on the 6th of May dashed into the town of Denton. 
They were hotly pursued on the 6th, 7th and 8th and on the 9th 
they took refuge at Murphy's house. When he saw them coming he 

74 LifeandAdventures 

is reported to have bounded forward to greet them with unbounded 
hypocritical enthusiasm. He told them, which was true, that he 
had been "laying out" for two weeks, trying to get with them, but 
the opportunity had never offered. 

About this time he learned that Sheriff Everhart was also in the 
secret and he entered into a plan at his own house to betray the band 
to him. Murphy told him he would have two of them back of his 
field that night and that he could arrest them if he wanted to. But 
for some reason which Murphy does not know the sheriff's party did 
not come. Murphy then mounted a good horse and arming himself 
with a six-shooter, went off with the band. As we have already 
seen, they continued their course towards Bolivar and secretly 
entered the town. 

From Bolivar Bass hastened west to Wise county, where the 
Salt Creek fight occurred. While there Bass stole some horses and 
returned to the north part of Denton county. Murphy says: 

"I laid a plan to bring the gang to Bolivar, and after I got the 
gang there I told Clay Withers and Taylor just where the gang 
were, and that they would go to Billy Mount's stable, in Denton, 
to steal his horses, and I would stay outside. The men I had there 
were Sam Bass and Frank Jackson. No action was taken that 
night. The next night three of us, Sam, Frank, and myself, went to 
Mount's stable and stole a horse, there in Denton, and then went 
to Elm Bottom. We stole the horse about 12 o'clock at night; 
Sam and Frank went into the stable and got the horse. We got to 
Elm Bottom about daylight and slept some fifteen or twenty min- 
utes there. Then we went across Big Elm at Rock Crossing. We 
camped on this (east) side of Elm Bottom and stopped there for 
breakfast; laid there until noon; then Sam noticed a good many 
men on the road and directed us to saddle; then we went along the 
bottom to near Hilltown, where we camped again; stole some corn 
and had dinner. We then traveled through a big pasture and got 
kind of lost. We stopped at the house of a man named Burton, I 
think, some ten miles from Dallas, all night. Next day we went 
to W. O. Collins' and stopped there about two hours. Sam went 
there but could not get anything. We did not go to the house. 
We then went northeast to a church and met Seaborn Barnes." 

While here Henry Collins, in company with a stranger, brought 
the news from Fort Worth that Jim was a traitor in the camp; 
that he was in collusion with the Rangers. Upon this Jim was no- 
tified that he would have to die, and they asked him what he had 
to say. Jim replied that it was all true what Collins said, but that 
he had entered into an agreement to get away from the officers of 
the law, inasmuch as he was indicted and would have to go to the 

ofSamBass 75 

penitentiary. His intention then as now, was to give them the 
"slip," and that if they would let him live and remain with them, he 
would take the lead in all they undertook. Jackson plead for 
Murphy also. He said he had known him from a boy, and didn't 
believe that Murphy would betray them. They let the matter rest 
there. But Bass and Barnes were not convinced that all was right 
and were sullen all that night. The talk was a long and earnest 
one, and there is no doubt that the party were on the point of 
riddling Murphy with bullets. After that Bass kept a strict 
watch over him, and he found it almost Impossible to communicate 
with any one. 

Murphy resumes his narrative of this and succeeding events 
as follows: 

"It was this meeting with Barnes that nearly cost me my life, as 
on that night the rest of the crowd got the information that I was 
a spy. There was a stranger with Barnes when we met him. We 
talked a long time there, and I convinced Frank Jackson that I 
had sold out to Major Jones to fool him and get out of a bad scrape 
myself. He stuck to me or I should have been killed that night, and 
I owe my life to him. After talking a long time we started togeth- 
er and kept on towards Rockwall. The next night we stopped all 
night near Rockwall. The camp was near the edge of town, and 
while there Bass looked up and saw the gallows on which a man 
had recently been hung. He said, 'Boys, if I had seen that I would 
not have stopped here. It makes me feel bad to look at it. How I 
would hate to die on that.' (Many readers will remember that this 
gallows was erected for the execution of Garner, the murderer of 
the Sheriff. But the night before his execution, his wife went 
into the cell with poison upon her person, intending to die with 
him. The poison not proving sufficient, Garner hung his wife to 
the prison wall with the bale of a bucket, and then choked himself 
to death by filling his mouth and nostrils with strips of cloth torn 
from his clothes. When the jailor visited the cell at the dawn of day 
he had just expired. No -greater prison horror has ever occurred 
in the country.) "We then struck out towards Terrell, and got 
there late in the evening and struck camp just south of the town 
about 8 p. m. Next morning Bass and Jackson went into Terrell 
and viewed the bank, and came back and said they did not be- 
lieve we could make it. I proposed viswing some other banks and 
taking the easiest. We then struck out for Kaufman, and Barnes 
and me went into Kaufman and bought a suit of clothesj and left 
my old clothes in the store, as a guide to Everheart and others who 
might bs on the hunt for us. We found no suitable bank there 
and passed on down to Ennis. I could not leave them a moment 

76 LifeandAdventures 

to telegraph, and had to stay with them. We stopped a day and 
night at Ennis. Sam and me examined the bank, and thought it 
unsafe to tackle it, as it was too high for us. We then struck for 
Waco; reached there about 1 p. m., and camped on the north side 
of town. Frank and me went into town, looked around, put our 
horses into a livery stable, got shaved, got dinner in a restaurant, 
then got a $5 bill changed in the bank and saw lots of money, and 
we returned and reported to Bass, and I suggested that he (Bass) 
better go and see it as Fjank Jackson was excited. Next morn- 
ing we were on the south side of town, and Bass and Jackson went 
and looked at it, and decided to rob the Waco bank. So that 
evening we all moved our camp up on the west side of the Bosque 
river, to look out a place to retreat to. Sam then proposed that 
Frank Jackson and me should go in and see where to hitch our 
horses and get some bacon, lard and coffee, and arrange for re- 
treat if we robbed the bank. On the way I worked upon Frank as 
to the dangers of it, so that he decided not to rob it, but I did not 
know what conclusion they had arrived at until next morning at 
breakfast. Up to this time I had no word from anybody, and 
was anxious to get some one on the trail. Bass said. 'Jim, we'll 
go where you say.' We then went south of town again, and that 
night, before leaving Waco, Seaborn Barnes went and stole a fine 
pacing mare, with two white hind feet, the one he had when he was 

"At Belton I sold SeabornBarnes' horse and gave a bill of sale in 
my name, to leave a clue. I also wrote a letter to Johnson and 
Everheart a few lines only for God's sake come at once, as we 
are bound for Round Rock to rob the bank there. I slipped it 
in the postoffice. After we left Belton we went to Georgetown. 
There I wrote to Major Jones, at Austin, that we were at 
Georgetown, and on our way to Round Rock to rob the railroad 
bank, or to be killed, and to prevent it for God's sake. I just 
got that letter in as Bass came in. He asked me what I was doing 
in there so long. I said I was trying to 'talk this man out of his 
paper. The man took the hint, threw down the paper, and said he 
would loan but said he could not sell it. Bass said 'that's all right,' 
and I read it to him one side. Then we went on to Round Rock 
and camped out about a quarter of a mile West of old Round Rock 
town, on the San Saba road, and bought feed and grub there from 
May & Black; also bought some in the town. This was on Sun- 
day night.' We fooled around until Friday." 

Some matters of local interest are not given in the above narra- 

At Terrell, Hall & Company's bank was thought the best one to 

ofSamBasSi 77 

rob, but they didn't think it safe to try the job. Their appearance 
in this town as afterwards described was as follows: 

"One drizzly day, some weeks ago, there rode down Moore ave- 
nue five mounted men, with a shotgun each thrown across their 
saddles in front of them. The leader was a devil-may-care looking 
fellow, with a saucy cock of his sombrero on the side of his head, 
and an eye like an eagle. The balance of the cavalcade were rowdy- 
ish enough, wearing slop-shop clothes and rakish hats. They disap- 
peared at the east end of the avenue and finally turned up on 
Broad street on foot. They were seen to enter Messrs. Holt 
Bevins & Cooley's bank, come out and walk up and down the Star 
Block, and then go in the direction of Uncle Jim Harris' livery 
stable. Back of this, it appears, they had hitched their horses, and 
springing into their saddles they rode leisurely in a northeasterly 
direction. It now turns out that these men were the famous ban- 
dits Sam Bass and his reckless followers as the description since 
minutely given of them, corresponds to a dot to the noted and chiv- 
alric brigand and his devoted men." 

At Kaufman, they strolled around town during the afternoon, 
and went into camp in the woods nearby. The next morning Bass, 
Jackson and Murphy went back to the town, got their horses shod, 
Sam and Frank got shaved, went and got their horses after they 
were shod, put them in the livery stable and had them fed; and 
then went to the hotel and got their dinners. Then they went 
over to the east side of town and entered the largest store there 
was in town. The object was to find a safe to rob that night. Sam 
Bass threw a twenty-dollar bill on the counter and asked the old 
man of the store to change it. He took the bill and went to the safe. 
When he opened the safe, Sam Bass took a good look into it, and 
afterwards said there was scarcely money enough in it to change 
the bill. They then returned to camp and started out for Ennis 
where they camped a mile from town. Bass and Murphy rode into 
Ennis and took a look at the bank. They put their horses in a 
livery stable, took dinner at a hotel, and took a second look at 
the Ennis bank and concluded that it was fixed too well to rob. 

While at Waco, Bass went to the Ranche saloon, and after tak- 
ing a drink threw a twenty-dollar gold piece on the counter. This 
was the last of the money obtained in the Union Pacific robbery, and 
he remarked afterwards, "It is all gone, now, and that is all the 
good it has done me." 

78 Life and Ad ventures 



Inspecting the Round Rock Bank Major Jones and the Rangers 
Going to Town After Tobacco and Things The Fight Begins 
Sheriff Grimes Killed Sharp Conflict on the Street Bass 
Pierced With a Bullet Barnes Shot Dead While Mounting His 
Horse Escape of Bass and Jackson Murphy Appears on the 
Scene of Conflict. 

As we have seen, according to Murphy's statement, the gang 
reached the vicinity of Round Rock Sunday evening, July 14th, and 
there went into camp. The next night they moved their camp near- 
er new Round Rock, south of the grave-yard, near some negro quar- 
ters. Here they remained, resting their horses and visiting the 
town, going into the bank and taking a good look at the situation. 
Bass and Murphy both had $5 bills changed at the bank. Murphy 
delayed the robbers as long as he could, in order to give Major 
Jones time to arrive. Finally, when their horses were fully rest- 
ed and the bank and all its surroundings had been thoroughly 
examined, Bass fixed upon the following plan of robbery: 

They were all to go to the bank on foot, leaving their horses 
hitched in an alley near the bank. Barnes was to give the cashier 
a $5 bill to change the last they had, so it is said and while he 
was doing this Bass was to go behind the countermand level his pis- 
tol at the cashier and make him hold up his hands, when Barnes 
would jump over the counter, take the money and put it in a sack. 
In the meantime Jackson and Murphy were to stand in the door of 
the bank to keep anybody from coming in. After getting the money 
they were to move out the San Saba road a short distance, then turn 
to the right, go up west of Georgetown and make their way up to 
Denton, where they proposed to kill Deputy Sheriffs McGing and 
Wetzell, of Denton county. 

They swore death to Billy Scott, the witness, if they had to ride 
to Dallas for hi m. Saturday, July 20th, was the day fixed upon for 
the robbery. It was to be in the afternoon just as the bank was to be 
closed, at which time they expected all the business men would 
have deposited their money. 

In the meantime Major Jones had received Murphy's letter from 
Belton and Georgetown at Austin. As soon as the letter reached 
him he immediately sent to Lieutenant Reynolds, in command of 
a squad of rangers at Lampasas, to meet him at Round Rock the 

ofSamBass 79 

next morning. Three men were also sent to Round Rock early on 
the morning of the 18th, and the Major himself followed on the 
first train. He took with him Maurice Moore, deputy sheriff of 
Travis county, whom he happened to meet on the street as he was 
going to the depot. Moore was formerly a sergeant in his command. 
Arriving at Round Rock he went to the postoffice, expecting a letter 
from Murphy, but found none. He then warned the banker that the 
robbers were in the vicinity, and would probably attempt to rob 
them. He called on Deputy Sheriff Grimes, who was once a member 
of his command, and took him and Mtr. Albert Highsmith into his 
confidence. They sent spies out to search the country round for the 
robbers' camp. At nightfall, having heard nothing of the robbers, 
and not knowing but what they had passed on to Austin, or con- 
cluded to strike the tra n at some other point, Major Jones notified 
Captain Hall and the Sheriff and United States Marshal to look out 
for them in Austin, and telegraphed the railroad officers at Hearne 
and Austin to have the trains guarded. 

That night he had his men concealed at the depot to protect the 
train, and also had the town thoroughly patrolled. Next morning 
his spies were out by daylight, searching the country for the camp. 
His men were instructed particularly to keep a lookout about the 
bank. About noon, having learned that Lieutenant Reynolds had 
removed from Lampasas to San Saba, and fearing that he would 
not arrive in time, he telegraphed to Austin for Captain Hall, 
who arrived at 2 o'clock p. m. After consultation they telegraphed 
to Austin for Lieutenant Armstrong and some of Hall's men, as it 
was supposed the robbers numbered seven or eight men. 

The critical hour was not at hand. But we turn back for a mo-- 
ment to follow the movements of the robbers as they approached 
the scene of deadly conflict. 

"Friday morning, the 19th, says Murphy, "Frank Jackson and 
me went into town to look for rangers, as Sam Bass said he saw two 
rangers who lookd like cow-boys. So we went to see, and we could 
not find any, and at eleven o'clock we left town and reported to 
Bass. We then smoked awhile, and agreed that all should go to 
town after some tobacco and things, as we should rob the bank 
next day. When we arrived at the old town I suggested remaining 
there to see if I could learn anything of the rangers. They agreed 
to this, and Bass, Barnes and Jackson went into the new town." 

Murphy's work was now accomplished. What immediately 
follows is best told by Deputy Sheriff Maurice Moore: "About 
4 p. m.," he says, "I was standing in front of Smith's livery stable, 
and three men passed up the street. Smith remarked to me, 
'There go three strangers.' I noticed them carefully and thought 
one of them had a six-shooter 1 under his coat. The others were 

80 Life and Adventures 

carrying saddle-bags. They looked at me rather hard and went 
across the street into a store. I walked up the street to where 
Grimes, the Deputy Sheriff of Williamson county was standing, 
and remarked to him, 'I think one of those men has a six-shooter 
on.' Grimes remarked to me, 'Let me go over and see.' We 
walked across the street and went into tha store. Not wishing to 
let them know I was watching them, I stood up inside the store 
door with my hands in my pockets, whistling. Grimes approached 
them carelessly and asked one if he had not a six-shooter. They 
all three replied, 'Yes,' and at the same instant two of them shot 
Grimes and one shot me. 

After I had fired my first shot I could not see the men on ac- 
count of the smoke. They continued shooting and so did I, until 
I fired five shots; as they passed out I saw one man bleeding from 
the arm and side; I then leaned against the store door, feeling 
faint and sick, and recovering myself, I started on and fired the 
remaining shot at one of the men. 

"Having lent one of my pistols to another man the day before, 
I stopped and reloaded my pistol, went into the stable and got my 
Winchester and started in pursuit of them, and was stopped by 
Dr. Morris, who said, 'Hold on; don't go any further, for if you get 
over-heated your wound may kill you;' I stopped and gave my 
Winchester to another man; went with the Doctor and Judge 
Schultz to the hotel; Grimes did not have time to draw his pistol; 
six bullet holes were put through his body." Sheriff Moore was 
shot through the left lung. 

In the meantime the three rangers had come from where they 
were stationed and fired on the robbers as they retreated across 
the street. Major Jones, who was coming from the telegraph 
office when the firing began, ran to the Robinson corner, when 
seeing the situation, he called on his men, drew his pistol, ran up 
the street, and when within fifty yards of the robbbers, commenced 
firing upon them. One of the robbers turned as he reached the 
corner around which they are retreating and fired delibertately 
at Major Jones, the ball passing over his head and entering the 
wall of a building in his rear. At this time the excitement in the 
town was fearful to witness. Men were running in every direction, 
some to get out of range of the whistling bullets and take shelter 
behind a friendly corner, tree or post; others to get such arms as 
they could lay their hands on and join in the fight; women and 
children were screaming and flying from the houses between and 
around which the robbers were retreating. All this presented a 
scene which beggars description. The robbers retreated across 
the street, half way up the square and down the alley, at the lower 

o f S am Bass 81 

end of which their horses were hitched, closely pursued and constant- 
ly fired at by rangers and citizens, but taking shelter and firing back 
at their pursuers at every convenient place. When half way down 
the alley, Bass received his second wound, the one which caused his 

This fatal shot which ended the wild career of the robber chieftian, 
was fired by George Harrell, a ranger. 

Just as the robbers reached their horses, R. C. Ware, one of the 
rangers, took deliberate aim at one of them and shot him through the 
head, killing him instantly. As the other two mounted and ran off, 
Major Jones, Ware, and J. F. Tubbs, a one-armed citizen who had 
taken Grimes' pistol and joined in the fight, fired several shots at 
them but without effect. F. L. Jordan fired at the robbers from 
the back door of his store as they ran down the alley. Albert High- 
smith shot at them from the back yard of his stable, and might 
have "killed one of them had not a cartridge shell hung in his Win- 

Captain Hall was at the hotel lying down when the fight started, 
but was quickly' on the spot with Winchester and pistol in hand, 
mounted a horse which happened to be near and, accompanied by 
the three rangers, one of whom rode the dead robber's (Barnes) 
horse, gave chase to the flying robbers. Several citizens who had 
horses at hand went with him. As soon as Major Jones could get a 
horse he, accompanied by Major Dick Mangrum and several other 
citizens, went in pursuit of the robbers also, but they did not go 
more than two or three miles before the old plug which the Major 
had gotten from the livery stable played out and the party returned. 

Capt. Hall pursued the robbers until the trail was lost in the brush 
and then returned to town, as it was too near night and his horses 
were too nearly broken down to follow further. 

When the flying robbers passed through old Round Rock, Jim 
Murphy was still there and saw them as they dashed by. He says: 

"I was sitting in a door at old Round Rock as they came by, and 
Frank was holding Bass on his horse. Bass looked pale and sickly, 
and his hand was bleeding, and he seemed to be working .cartridges 
into his pistol. Jackson looked at me as much as to say, Jim, save 
yourself if you can. Barnes had been killed instantly. I then saw 
Major Jones go by, and hallooed to him, but he did not hear me. I 
then went into the new town; there was a good deal of excitement, 
and some one asked who the dead man was. I said if it is the Bass 
gang, it must be Seaborn Barnes. Some one asked how they would 
know. I said he has got four bullet holes in his legs three in his 
right and one in his left leg, which he got at Mesquite. They found 
the wounds, and was going to arrest me, when Major Jones came up, 

82 Life and Adventures 

and shortly after recognized me, and I went down with him and 
identified the dead body as that of Seaborn Barnes." 

About two hours after the fight, Lieutenant Reynolds arrived 
with ten men, having ridden from San Saba, a distance of one hun- 
dred miles since seven o'clock the evening before. He left his men 
a mile or two out of town and came in to report to Major Jones 
secretly before bringing his men in. 

Later in the evening Lieutenant Armstrong's party from Austin 



Pursuit of the Robbers Bass Discovered Under a Live Oak 
Fatally Wounded Taken to Town Attempt to Secure a Con- 
fession His Dying Statements Game to the Last Death-Bed 
Scene. , 

It was fully known that one of the robbers who had escaped was 
badly wounded, as he made two attempts before he was able to 
mount his saddle. He was also seen holding up his hand as he dashed 
away, and apparently maintained his seat with great difficulty. As 
we have already seen, Murphy was very positive that this was Bass. 

Major Jones was therefore greatly elated with the prospect of his 
capture early the next morning. As soon as it was light, Sergeant 
Nevill of Lieutenant Reynold's company, with eight men was sent 
out to look for the trail and continue the pursuit. Deputy Sheriff 
Tucker, of Georgetown, was sent along as guide, as he was thor- 
oughly acquainted with the country. The party proceeded to the 
point where the trail was lost the evening before. This was about 
four miles from town. Soon after arriving there, a man was noticed 
lying under a tree, not far from the new railroad, but as there were 
some mules grazing near by and as the railroad hands were not 
far distant Sheriff Tucker said it must be one of the hands and no 
further attention was paid to him. 

The lost trail was found and followed until it divided. After 
wandering about for some time Sergeant Nevill again emerged upon 
the prairie, and meeting one of the railroad hands asked him if he 
had seen a wounded man in the vicinity. He replied that there 
was a man lying under "that tree out there," pointing to the man 
seen before, "who was hurt, and who said that he was a cattle man 

ofSamBass 83 

from one of the lower counties, and had been in Round Rock the 
day before and getting into a little difficulty, had been shot." Ser- 
geant Nevill at once approached the tree and when within about 
twenty feet of it the wounded man held up his hand and said: 
"Don't shoot; I am unarmed and helpless; I am the man you are 
looking for; I am Sam Bass!" Bancroft Llhmnr 

He had parted with Jackson the evening before after giving him 
his rifle, pistol and pocket-book, feeling convinced that he would 
never need them again. During the long, weary hours of the night 
he lay in the silent woods alone, his body wracked by pain and his 
mind harrassed with the hopelessness of escape. 

In the morning he dragged himself out in the hope of obtaining 
help. Soon after a negro came by with a team and he tried to hire 
him to haul him away and secrete him, but failed. 

Major Jones was notified, and in company with Dr. Cochran, a 
physican of Round Rock, went out with an ambulance to bring the 
prisoner in. After an examination of his wounds, the Doctor pro- 
nounced them fatal and assured the bold bandit that his last hour 
was close at hand. Bass was fully persuaded of the truth of the 
Doctor's opinion and expressed no hope of recovery. 

He was placed in the ambulance and taken to Round Rock, and 
at once it was telegraphed abroad that he was dying. The fatal 
bullet had entered the small of the back and come out in front. 
Much attention was shown him by Major Jones and all present, and 
nothing was left undone to soothe his pains, in hope of gaining his 
confidence and softening his fixed determination to reveal nothing 
against his confederates who were still at large. 

He .continued in a sinking condition during Saturday, but Sunday 
morning seemed much better and at once began to entertain a hope 
of recovery. His physician besought him to make a confession, as 
he must soon die and appear before the Great Judge. But the 
wounded robber turned and looking coolly up at the Doctor, said, 
"don't you be too sure of that." 

Major Jones tried every inducement to secure important state- 
ments from him, and some one was constantly present with paper 
and pencil in hand, to write down his utterances, but nothing val- 
uable in the way of evidence, escaped from his lips. His self-control 
and resolute purpose to remain faithful to his friends were wonder- 
ful. Though surrounded by a number of shrewd men and though 
constantly interrogated by one whose long experience in the capture 
of outlaws had given him a keen insight into their disposition and 
made him an adept in handling them, and though the death damp 
was gathering upon his brow, and final dissolution was wrerjching 
body and spirit apart, yet his wonderful shrewdness and sagacity of 

84 Life and Adventures 

instinct remained intact. Had he been seated at a camp fire in his 
old fastness, surrounded by his pals and sound in health and limb, 
he could not more successfully have parried the interrogatives put 
to him and thwarted the purpose of his captor. 

"I tried every conceivable plan," said Major Jones, "to obtain 
some information from him, but to no purpose. About noon on 
Sunday, he began to suffer greatly and sent for me to know if I 
could not give him some relief. I did everything I could for him. 
Thinking this an excellent opportunity, I said to him, 'Bass, you 
have done much wrong in this world, you now have an opportu- 
nity to do some good before you die by giving some information 
which will lead to the vindication of that justice which you have 
so often defied and the law which you have constantly violated.' He 
replied, 'No, I won't tell.' 'Why won't you?' said I. 'Because it is 
agin my profession to blow on my pals. If a man knows anything 
he ought to die with it in him.' He positively refused to converse 
on religion and in reply to some remark made, he said 'I am go- 
ing to Hell, anyhow.' I made a particular effort to obtain some in- 
formation from him in regard to William Collins. I asked him if he 
was ever at Collins' house. He said no. I then put the question 
in a different form, saying 'where did you first see Will Scott?' 
He replied at Bob Murphy's. I then said, 'You saw him at Green 
Hill's too, didn't you?' He replied, 'yes.' These answers were 
not of any consequence, but I then said, 'when did you see him at 
William Collins?' He said, 'I don't remember, as I never paid at- 
tention to dates, being always on the scout, I only saw him these 
three times.' This answer was important, as it fixed the fact that 
Bass was at Collins' house. But this was the only statement of 
any importance which he made. All his other statements were of 
facts well known or concerning individuals beyond the reach of fu- 
ture justice." 

Among these statements he said : 

"I am twenty-seven years old, have brothers John and Denton, at 
Mitchell, Indiana. Have been in the robbing business a long time. 
Had done much business of that kind before the U. P. robbery last 

Q. How came you to commence this kind of life? 

A. Started out sporting on horses. 

Q. Why did you get worse than horse racing? 

A. Because they robbed me of my first $300. 

Q. After they robbed you, what did you do next? 

A. Went to robbing stages in the Black Hills robbed seven. 
Got very little money. Jack Davis, Nixon and myself were all that 
were in the Black Hills stage robberies. Joel Collins, Bill Heffrige, 

of Sam Bass 85 

Tom Nixon, Jack Davis, Jim Berry and me were in the Union Pacfic 
robbery. Tom Nixon is in Canada. Have not seen him since that 
robbery. Jack Davis was in New Orleans from the time of the Un- 
ion Pacfic robbery till he went to Denton to get me to go in with 
him and buy a ship. This was the last of April, 1878. Gardner, 
living in Atascosa county, is my friend. Was at his house last fall. 
Went to Kansas with him once. Will not tell who was in the Eagle 
Ford robbery besides myself and Barnes. When we were in the store 
at Round Rock, Grimes asked me if I had a pistol, I said yes; then 
all three of us drew our pistols and shot him. If I killed Grimes it 
was the first man I ever killed. Henry Collins was with me in the 
Salt Creek flght four or five weeks ago. Arkansas Johnson was 
killed in that fight. Don't know whether Underwood was wounded 
or not at Salt Creek fight. 'Sebe' Barnes, Frank Jackson and Charles 
Carter were there. We were all set afoot in that fight, but stole 
horses enough to remount ourselves in three hours, or as soon as 
dark came; after which we went back to Denton. Stayed there 
until we came to Round Rock. 

Q. Where is Jackson now? 

A. I don't know. 

Q. How do you usually meet after being scattered? 

A. Generally told by friends. 

Q. Who are these- friends? 

A I will not tell. 

This was his usual reply to questions which he did not wish to 
answer, and was in the most deliberate manner possible. 

Even in the midst of his intense agony on Sunday afternoon he 
clung to the delusion that he would recover. But about twenty 
minutes before his death, when warned by his physician that dis- 
solution was near at hand, he calmly replied, 'let me go.' 

A few minutes later he said to his nurse, "the world is bobbing 
around me." His pains had ceased and he rested at ease. There 
were a few gasps and he was dead. This was at 4 p. m., Sunday, 
June 21st. 

The next day the body was interred at Round Rock. And thus 
the earth gathered back to her bosom one who had lived to harass 
and torment his kind. 

What is known in regard to the rest of the band is easily told. 
Jackson made good his escape, reaching Denton county 1 two hun- 
dred miles distant after a three days ride. But his capture may 
occur at any time. Underwood had not been seen since the Salt 
Creek fight, and his whereabouts are unknown. Carter, who joined 
Bass towards the last, is said to have been sent out of the country 

Life arid Adventures 

by his father. The two Collins, under indicment by the grand 
jury, are still in concealment. Jim Murphy received his reward, 
and is now at his home near Rosston in Denton county. 



Excellent Work Accomplished By The Authorities A Word Of 
Justification for Captain Peak Local Authorities Force of 
Detectives Needed Prevention of Crime Evil Influences of 
Horse- Racing and Gaming Need of Education No Profit in 

It is now evident that there was some remissness in not making 
a more prompt and determined effort to hunt down the train 
robbers before they had so successfully repeated their outrages. 
It must also be admitted that the great campaign against Bass in 
Denton and Wise counties was not a success. But after all the 
State of Texas has reason to congratulate herself on what has been 
accomplished. The first robbery was committed February 22, and 
before that date in July the leader of the gang and two of his leading 
accomplices had been laid in bloody graves, three others had been 
convicted and sent to the penitentiary, one other is still in jail, five 
others have been indicted and arrested as accessories, and are now 
out on bond, two others under arrest were allowed their liberty for 
services rendered the State. Only two principal members of the 
band, Jackson and Underwood have made their escape. 

This makes an excellent showing for our authorities, and speaks 
well for the determined and efficient manner in which the band has 
been hunted down amid wild woods and a sparsely populated coun- 
try. It was thought that much was accomplished by the pursuers 
of the Union Pacific robbers and yet only three out of six of the 
robbers were captured. But in the case of the Texas train robbers, 
six out of eight of the principals in the crimes have ben killed or 
covicted. If we number Green Hill and William Collins among the 
principals, the former is safe in jail at Austin, and the appearance 
of the latter before court is secured by a $15,000 bond. 

In regard to the failure of the campaign against Bass, justice 
requires that Captain Peak should be set right before public opinion. 
For all that occurred between April 24th and May 21st he is respons- 
ible to the just expectations of the public. But it must be remem- 

ofSamBass 87 

bered that on May 21st the contract was entered into with James 
Murphy to betray Bass, and in furtherance of this purpose it was 
arranged that Captain Peak should hold his force at or near Dallas. 

The agreement with Murphy being necessarily concealed from 
the public some unjust criticism was indulged in against Captain 
Peak for his inaction. But now that the whole plan has been un- 
covered, it is plain that he was fully justified in holding his com- 
mand stationary at a convenient point where Murphy could read- 
ily reach him with his communications. But on account of the 
pressure of public opinion he was compelled to continue more ac- 
tively in the pursuit of the gang than was deemed desirable. This 
led to the pursuit of the band into Wise county and the fight at 
Salt Creiek the only fight in the long pursuit which was attended 
by a good result. 

In regard to the action of Sheriffs and local authorities there 
is also need of a word of explanation and justification. The laws 
of the State make no provision for the expensss of a sheriff's 
posse engaged in a prolonged pursuit of outlaws. It matters not 
how far or how long a sheriff may ride, or how many armed and 
mounted men he may employ to assist him, or how much money he 
may spend on the trip, he is only allowed one dollar each for the 
criminals he may capture, and that after conviction. The Sheriff 
of Dallas county declared that he could not pursue that gang who 
robbbed the trains in the county, because he could not afford it. 

It will be a very important question for our next Legislature 
to consider, whether the laws should not be amended in this re- 
spect, and our local authorities strengthened and made far more 
efficient by a proper provision for necessary expenses in cases of 

Another very important question which should also be con- 
sidered, is whether it would not be well for the State to employ a 
regular force of detectives to ferret out and secure the arrest of 

It is well known that there are many outlaws and fugitives 
from justice in the State. A list of four thousand was published 
not long since, and this did not include reports from a large num- 
ber of counties. Many criminals have also escaped from other 
States and fled to Texas for refuge. Against these outlaws the 
State police is performing very efficient service. But their efforts 
should be supplemented by detectives, working secretly among the 
outlaws, discovering them in their hiding places and securing the 
proper chain of evidence for their conviction. 

There has been too much of a tendency heretofore to rely upon 
revolvers and bold riders. But it should be remembered that the 

88 Life arid Adventures 

pell mell drive after Bass accomplished little, while to a spy and to 
a betrayer we are primarily indebted for the capture of leading 
members and final overthrow of the band. The method pursued for 
the breaking up of the Molly Maguires is very instructive in this con- 
nection. This was, perhaps, the worst combination of outlaws ever 
known in this country. When Franklin B. Gowan, president of the 
Reading railroad, determined to break it up, he employed the ablest 
of Pinkerton's detectives to accomplish the task. They went into 
the counties infested by the members of the organization, and con- 
tinued their efforts until they arrested and convicted more than 
sixty of the outlaws, many of whom were hung. Similar 
service against the thousands of criminals who infest the State, 
would undoubtedly be attended with most important results. 

But back of all considerations of the best method of pursuing 
criminals, lies a still more important question not only for the 
State Government but for society, and that is how to prevent men 
from becoming criminals. The occasional case of Sam Bass' crim- 
inal career is easily stated. He, himself, and his employes, and 
neighbors say, that it was the purchase of the race mare. Horse- 
racing soon lead him into a career of idleness and dissipation, and 
from that the descent to open outlawry was easy. 

That the influence of horse-racing and gaming was ruinous in this 
instance, is a plain fact, testified to in the dying confession of a 
slain outlaw. That it is almost invariably demoralizing must be 
admitted by all. It should not, therefore, be encouraged by the 
laws of the State or voluntary organization of the people. When 
our fair associations devote the larger part of their premiums to 
horse-racing, and when they admmit all forms of light gaming to a 
place among their exhibitions, they do more to demoralize the 
young and to impair the moral integrity of a community than 
they do to promote its industrial and agricultural interests. 

Again, it should not be forgotten that Sam Bass was unedu- 
cated. For this Texas was not responsible, for he was a young 
ignoramus thrust upon us by Indiana. But ignorance is a fruit- 
ful source of crime and costs the State infinitely more than educa- 
tion. We can never prevent crime until we go back to the sources 
of intellectual and moral life. The work must ba begun near the 
cradle, and pursued with never wearying vigilance until the char- 
acter is fully matured and the mind thoroughly imbued with the 
highest and noblest principles. 

In conclusion, one word to the young. The history of these 
robbers is an appalling argument against such a life. Their career 
was very short.. They were driven from the face of their fellow- 

of Sam Bass 89 

men. Their ill-gotten gains did them no good. Vengeance came 
swift and terrible, and in a few days, or at most a few short 
months, they were in bloody graves, or imprisoned at hard labor 
and forever disgraced. Mankind rejoiced at their fall. For those 
who lift their hands against law and order, the world has only 
condemnation disgrace and death. 

To mark the grave of that restless man a simple monument stands 
in the little town of Round Rock bearing the inscription 

Samuel Bass 
Born July 21st, 1851 
Died July 21st, 1878 

A Brave Man Reposes in Death Here. Why Was He Not True? 

Sam Bass was true to his friends and his convictions, but what of 
Jim Murphy? That man, hated of all men, despised even by the 
rangers whom* he had served, returned to Denton. Words cannot 
express the supreme contempt and hatred for the man (used for 
classification only) who, like a rattlesnake, turned and bit the one 
who befriended him. A guilty conscience weighing heavily upon 
him caused him to seek protection from the sheriff when his dis- 
torted imagination led him to believe Frank Jackson was lying 
around in the Elm Bottoms waiting for a chance to kill him. The 
sheriff granted him permission to take up his abode in the jail. 
However, his stay in his jail home was of short duration, as in a 
few weeks his ignominious career was brought to a close by suicide.